Ghana opposition meets to discuss loss

Associated Press

ACCRA, Ghana (AP) — 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 came in second with 47.7 percent. 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.

Akufo-Addo was expected to address his supporters this afternoon. The capital of Ghana, meanwhile, remained calm except for a few dozen protesters who gathered outside the opposition party headquarters.

"The fact is what went on yesterday, (the election commission) declaring the election in favor of John Dramani Mahama, we are not happy about it at all," said 36-year-old Mabel Lawson. "That's why we are all gathered here."

She said the party has "all the evidence" there was vote rigging. "We are not going to accept it."

But across the nation's capital, life went on as normal. Friday's presidential and parliamentary election ran into technical problems, after election officials installed biometric machines to identify voters through their fingerprints. No backup was planned and in scores of precincts, the machines failed to work, forcing the electoral body to extend voting into a second day.

The opposition says that the ruling party used the disorder that ensued to falsify results and rig the election in favor of Mahama, who was thrust to the fore in July, after the death in office of the country's ex-President John Atta Mills.

Like most of its neighbors, Ghana suffered numerous coups before setting itself on a path to democracy. Despite the technical glitches, Friday's election is being hailed as the sixth free and fair vote in the country's history. No other country in the region has had as many transparent polls.

Although the opposition is claiming vote-rigging, international observers said that the vote was an overall success, and another notch in the belt of Ghana's democratic progress.

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