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Ghana Reelects Mahama President, Opposition Alleges Fraud

by VOA News December 09, 2012

Supporters of Ghanaian President John Dramani Mahama are celebrating in the streets of the capital after he edged out his chief rival to win the country's presidential election.

Ghana's election commission announced the results late Sunday, following a tense day filled with accusations and protests.

Hundreds of supporters of Mahama's chief rival, the New Patriotic Party's Nana Akufo-Addo, took to the streets of Accra in protest, alleging the election was marred by fraud.

At one point, police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds. Tanks and anti-riot police were deployed outside the election commission building while the results were announced.

The commission said Mahama won 50.7 percent of the vote, compared to just under 48 percent for Akufo-Addo.

In a brief victory speech, Mahama urged the leader of rival parties to 'respect the voice of the people.'

Earlier Sunday, leaders of the New Patriotic Party said there was evidence of fraud and demanded a delay in any announcement until the tallies could be audited.

Shortly after the official announcement, the National Patriotic Party issued a statement saying that Mr. Akufo-Addo could not concede defeat. The party says it will meet on Tuesday to determine what to do next.

Friday's election marked the first time Ghana used a new biometric registration system that scans fingerprints to identify registered voters. Logistical and technical problems forced the polls to stay open into Saturday.

Despite the glitches, international observers have said the vote appeared to be transparent and peaceful. Ghanaian officials estimated voter turnout at close to 80 percent.

The West African country has earned a reputation for stability in an often turbulent region because of its recent record of peaceful, democratic transfers of power.

During the height of the protests, Ghanaian Police Commissioner Rose Bio-Atinga sought to reassure the public. 'We are everywhere, the police are everywhere, the military you can see them, they are everywhere, so we are up to the task. We do not close police stations, we did not stop night patrols, neither did we stop our day patrols, our men are everywhere so let me assure the general public that they are safe,' she said.

In addition to the presidential race, voters were choosing 275 members of parliament, where President Mahama's National Democratic Congress has held a majority of seats.

Ghana is also one of Africa's fastest growing economies and is beginning to benefit from commercial oil production that began in 2010.

But many residents, complaining of high living costs and low wages, say they want more immediate benefits from the country's oil wealth, which is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.



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