Ghana: Court challenge over vote results

2012-12-29 12:01
A supporter of Ghanian President John Dramani Mahama wears a hat in the colours of the ruling party. (File, AP)

A supporter of Ghanian President John Dramani Mahama wears a hat in the colours of the ruling party. (File, AP)

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Accra - Ghana's main opposition, alleging electoral fraud, filed a court challenge on Friday to results from this month's presidential polls handing victory to incumbent John Dramani Mahama.

Opposition candidate Nana Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party told journalists after the party filed the challenge with the supreme court that the discrepancies they are alleging were too large to ignore.

"The scale of what we have uncovered has surprised even the sceptical among us," he said. "Personally, it has been a sad experience."

He added later "we are ready to concede where there was more than 11 million voters there might be mistakes, but why are the arithmetic mistakes so often in favour of the NDC presidential candidate John Dramani Mahama?"

Akufo-Addo has refused to concede defeat in the 7 December election despite official results showing him with 47.7% against Mahama's 50.7%.

The NPP allegations involve around 1.3 million votes - enough to tip the balance in favour of Akufo-Addo.

10 days to file

Observer groups have however hailed the conduct of the election, and an organisation of local monitors said the official figures roughly matched up with its findings.

Ghana, a nation of around 24 million people, was seeking to live up to its reputation as a beacon of democracy in often turbulent west Africa in the presidential vote, its sixth since a return to civilian rule.

The country, west Africa's second-largest economy, is a major exporter of cocoa and gold and began producing oil in 2010.

Mahama, previously vice president, has been head of state only since July, following the death of his predecessor John Atta Mills.

Gabby Otchere-Darko, an advisor to Akufo-Addo, said the defendants would have 10 days to file and answer the suit. The 13 justices on the court have 15 days from when the suit is filed to hear the case.

Otchere-Darko said the NPP plans to call 25 witnesses. The supreme court will have 15 days to issue a ruling, and he said he expects the suit to be finished around February.

Claims dismissed

Mahama's inauguration is scheduled for 7 January by constitutional mandate. Otchere-Darko said the NPP has no intention of trying to stop Mahama from being sworn in.

"The supreme court can still declare the elections invalid [after the inauguration]," Otchere-Darko said. "Nobody can stop the inauguration."

NDC Deputy General Secretary George Lawson criticised the NPP's naming of Mahama as a defendant in the suit and dismissed the opposition's claims.

"The president has nothing to do with the result. He didn't declare the result," Lawson said. "He's the sitting president in Ghana. You cannot take the sitting president to court."

He said the attorney general would petition the court to have the president's name taken off the suit.

"There's no merit in the suit," Lawson said. "The people have given the mandate to his excellency John Dramani Mahama, and the electoral commission has declared him the winner, so I don't know where they're coming from."

- SAPA
Read more on:    john dramani mahama  |  ghana  |  west africa
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