Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo won re-election with 51.59 percent of the vote, results from the election commission showed on Wednesday, as deadly violence gripped the West African country.
The results follow a contentious poll that both candidates had said they were leading based on their camps’ tallies. Five people were killed in election violence since Monday, police said, marring what observers said was a well-organised vote.
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The Ghanaian Police Service said it recorded more than 60 incidents at Monday’s vote, in which President Nana Akufo-Addo ran for re-election against his main rival, former president John Mahama, and 10 other candidates.
“Twenty-one of the incidents are true cases of electoral violence, six of which involve gunshots resulting in the death of five,” it said.
Independent observers this week congratulated Ghana for conducting largely peaceful polls, in line with its reputation as one of West Africa’s most stable democracies.
But tensions have risen as the camps of Mahama and Akufo-Addo said their tallies showed their candidate in the lead.
“There were issues on election day about the procedure of voting, then immediately after the voting there were complaints about the way the result were being sorted out,” Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from the capital Accra, said.
“What we are hearing right now is that in the city of Tamale there has been protests going on by the opposition party claiming there were some irregularities and attempts to subvert with the will of people.
“We understand there has been an incident at the headquarters of the electoral commission, and we have seen in the last few minutes or so that the military police and other paramilitary organisation are ensuring that there is no breakdown of law and order.”
Polling on Monday was viewed by observers as generally free and fair, but the political climate soured late on Tuesday when Mahama accused his rival of showing “credentials that are very undemocratic”.
Akufo-Addo, he alleged, had harnessed the military in a bid to sway the outcome.
“You cannot use the military to try and overturn some of the results in constituencies that we have won. We will resist any attempts to subvert the sovereign will of the Ghanaian people,” the 62-year-old former president said.
Mahama made the accusations after rumours circulated on social media that he conceded defeat.
Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah told a news conference allegations of intimidation by soldiers were false.
He also bluntly rejected Mahama’s claim that his centre-left National Democratic Congress (NDC) had won a majority, of 140 seats, in the 275-member parliament.
The European Union’s chief observer, Javier Nart, told a news conference on Wednesday that “Ghanaians voted freely”.
“While there were isolated violent incidents, both on election day and during the campaign … fears of violence and vigilantism, fortunately, didn’t materialise. They were minor isolated incidents, some of them tragic ones.”
Mahama and Akufo-Addo, 76, are old rivals who have faced off at the ballot box twice before.
Mahama was president for four years until 2016 before being succeeded by Akufo-Addo. Both of those elections were determined by small margins.
Akufo Addo has promised to implement a $17bn programme to boost Ghana’s economy after the coronavirus pandemic hit the price of key oil and cocoa exports, resulting in the first quarterly contraction in nearly 40 years.
He will be under pressure to rein in government spending that has pushed the debt-to-GDP ratio past 70 percent and prompted warnings from the International Monetary Fund.