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The Journal Gazette

Monday, December 10, 2012 1:59 pm

Ghana opposition mulls results

By LAURA BURKEAssociated Press

Ghana's opposition met on Monday to discuss whether to accept the results of the recent presidential election, which handed victory to incumbent President John Dramani Mahama.

The opposition New Patriotic Party said in a draft statement sent to reporters late Sunday that they would contest the results, accusing the ruling party of falsifying the final tally. But soon after party leaders issued the statement, they sent an email to reporters rescinding it. It remains unclear if the NPP plans to challenge the results, which gave 50.7 percent of the vote to Mahama.

Opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo, who came in second with 47.7 percent, told reporters on Monday that the party is compiling data from polling stations in order to compare it with the published results. He said the party will make a decision on Tuesday on whether or not to contest the results.

"All of the information we have, the primary data, the results of the polling stations are consistently not tallying with many of the declared results," said Akufo-Addo. "It would seem to be a serious case for saying that something has gone wrong."

He said they planned to analyze the data before deciding on how to proceed.

"Our constitution says we have 21 days from the declaration of the result to challenge a presidential election. Our party will make that decision hopefully tomorrow . To me it would be normal to do so, if we feel strongly that there is a broad enough pattern of results going wrong. But these matters are still at large for me and I wouldn't want to be quoted as saying, `Yes we're going to court.'"

Akufo-Addo lost the 2008 presidential election by less than 1 percent, and this is likely the last election for the 68-year-old career politician, the son of one of Ghana's former presidents.

At the candidate's residence, consultants in suits moved around with iPads discussing the voter tallies, and supporters yelled pro-opposition slogans outside the gates with a megaphone. Angry supporters of Akufo-Addo also gathered at party headquarters, accusing the ruling party of stealing the election.

"I have closed down my shop and I'm here," said 25-year-old John Osman, outside the headquarters. "We are here to tell the (election commission) to review the votes, or we're going to go to the streets."

The capital of Ghana otherwise remained calm. This nation of 25 million has gone through turbulent times, weathering numerous coups, before finally righting itself and becoming what is now considered one of the most established democracies in the region. Last Friday's election is the sixth free and fair vote to be held in the country, according to international observers.

African Union leader Yayi Boni, who is the president of neighboring Benin, made a trip to Akufo-Addo's residence.

The candidate's personal assistant told reporters that Boni had asked Akufo-Addo to concede defeat.

"Yayi Boni stopped by," said his secretary, Herbert Krappa, "to tell him that the entire world is watching Ghana, and asked him just to let it go." He said that Akufo-Addo said he didn't want to get in the way of peace, "but the NPP has discovered very serious flaws and the magnitude of the fraud is not something they can ignore."

Akufo-Addo said, "The image of Ghana (as a beacon of democracy) shouldn't be a false one. It shouldn't be on the surface we have democracy but underneath we have something else."