In DepthColumnsGhana elections: The big questions as last minute results come in

Fri,17Nov2017

Posted on Sunday, 09 December 2012 20:45

Ghana elections: The big questions as last minute results come in

As Ghana awaits the official results of Friday's presidential election, The Africa Report's editor-in-chief Patrick Smith reports from the capital Accra. 

 

This morning it seemed that Ghana was about to know the results of the presidential election. The Electoral Commission announced that President John Dramani Mahama and the incumbent National Democratic Congress (NDC) had won over 50% of the votes in the presidential election with a 3% lead over challenger Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo on the basis of results from 205 constituencies. And on the basis of historical precedent, Mahama's NDC would be likely to win the majority of votes in at least half of the remaining 70 constituencies.

That prompted one of Accra's best respected radio stations – Joy FM – to call the election in favour of Mahama and the NDC. Adding more weight to this view was Bright Simon of the Imani Centre in Accra, who argued that all the pundits, including his own institute, had got the analysis wrong and that Mahama was indeed headed for victory.

Then Nigeria's former President Olusegun Obasanjo called on President Mahama in Accra, giving an impropmtu press conference and announcing that the elections were free and fair. Obasanjo was fullsome in his praise of Ghana and its institutions.

As head of the monitoring mission from the Economic Community of West African States, Obasanjo's statement was a vital endorsement of the results emerging from the Electoral Commission. Significantly, Mahama appeared to be more cautious than Obasanjo, telling waiting journalists that although he was satisfied with the Electoral Commission's organisation of the polls, everyone would have to wait until the final results.

We hear that Obasanjo also called on Akufo Addo, Mahama's leading opponent in the presidential race, who had started to question the legitimacy of some of the results announced by the Electoral Commission. Akufo Addo and his team, one of whom had announced their New Patriotic Party's (NPP) imminent victory in the presidential elections, didn't share Obasanjo's sanguine view.


NPP demands recounts

A few miles north of central Accra, the new NPP MP for Dome Kwabenya constituency, Adwoa Safo, told journalists the reason for the NPP's doubts about the electoral process. She said that she and her party colleagues had demanded nine recounts of the collated votes in Dome Kwabenya – eventually she said the Electoral Commission had conceded that she and her party had won another 15,000 votes than originally announced.

The Dome case, according to the NPP, is just the tip of the iceberg. According to NPP chairman Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, the party has “enough concrete evidence” to show that its candidate Akufo Addo had won the presidential election.

To prove its point, the NPP has asked the Electoral Commission to audit the collated figures from the 26,000 polling stations across the country. And as another check, the NPP wants the Electoral Commission to check the total of votes cast against the number of certified votes recorded by the biometric verification machines. According to the rules, only those voters certified by the biometric machines should have been allowed to vote.

Late on Sunday afternoon, top NPP officials delivered a letter to the Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, chairman of the Electoral Commission, making this formal request.

However, such checks could take several days of work by the Electoral Commission while political tensions rise in the country. It will be a tough decision for Afari-Gyan. If he rejects the NPP call out of hand, he will be accused of bias towards Mahama and the NDC.

Yet if the EC embarks on what would effectively be a national recount, tempers could snap as the final results are delayed still longer. Already the original deadline of 17.00 on 10 December has been extended to 11 December because of the second day of voting after the breakdown of several biometric verification machines.

With hundreds of angry NPP supporters gathering outside the Electoral Commission headquarters in Accra on Sunday afternoon, Afari-Gyan and the party leaders were coming under pressure to defuse the crisis. As dusk fell on Sunday, Ghana's reputation for holding credible and peaceful elections was on trial.



Patrick Smith

Patrick Smith

Patrick Smith is Editor-in-Chief of The Africa Report. He has edited the political and economic insider newsletter Africa Confidential since 1992 and was associate producer on a documentary about the 2004 coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea commissioned by Britain's Channel 4 television.

 

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