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General News of Monday, 10 December 2012

Source: Put together by Kojo Smith

Mahama's Victory: Headlines in the foreign press

President John Mahama secured 50.70% to be declared winner of the 2012 presidential race over Nana Akufo-Addo the main opposition with 47.74%.

Mahama becomes the first politician to win the presidential election on his first attempt.

After the declaration it was all merry making in Accra the capital city of Ghana mostly for the successful elections.

With a lot of foreign media and election observers in the country, this is how the historic event was reported in the foreign press .

Ghana election: John Mahama declared winner
John Mahama took office in July after the unexpected death of President John Atta Mills
Ghana's presidential election has been won by incumbent President John Mahama, the electoral commission has announced.
The commission said that Mr Mahama had won 50.7% against opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo on 47.74%.
However, the opposition NPP says it will contest the result, accused the governing NDC party of conspiring with commission staff to fix Friday's poll.
President Mahama urged "all leaders of all political parties to respect the voice of the people".
"The voice of the people is the voice of God," he added.
Police in the capital Accra fired tear gas to disperse opposition protesters from outside the commission's offices.
Tanks guarded the electoral commission and roads around the offices were barricaded by police as the results were announced.
"Ladies and gentlemen, based on the results given, I declare John Dramani Mahama president-elect," electoral commission chief Kwadwo Afari-Gyan told journalists.
He said turnout had been about 80%.
Ghana, one of the world's fastest growing economies, is regarded as one of Africa's most stable democracies.
Result rejected
In a draft statement emailed to reporters on Sunday, the opposition said it would contest the results.
"This situation, if allowed to go unchallenged and uncorrected, would seriously damage the essence of the electoral process and the substance of democracy in Ghana," the NPP said.
"To accept this result is to discredit democracy in Ghana and, in the process, distort the process of democratisation in Africa. Therefore, the New Patriotic Party cannot accept the results of the presidential election as declared by the EC (election commission) this evening."
Police with armoured vehicles have been protecting the electoral commission offices
Earlier, the NPP said it had "enough concrete evidence" to prove that Mr Akufo-Addo had won the election.
"The ruling NDC conspired with certain EC staff in constituencies across the country to falsify the election results and thereby abuse the mandate of the people of Ghana," the party said.
"It was this planned, systematic stealing of votes at the collation level that was, thankfully, discovered in time."
The party cited discrepancies between initial tally sheets and the results reported in the media.
Mr Mahama's presidential adviser Tony Aidoo said there was no foundation for the allegations.
Mr Akufo-Addo lost the 2008 presidential poll by one percentage point, but accepted the result.
Glitches with a new finger-printing system meant that voting continued into Saturday in some parts of the country.
However, observers said the election had passed off largely peacefully.
Mr Mahama was Ghana's vice-president until the unexpected death of President John Atta Mills in July catapulted him into office.

Ghana election: Opposition NPP alleges vote fraud

Ghana's opposition New Patriotic Party has accused the governing party of conspiring with Electoral Commission staff to fix Friday's election.

Opposition protesters were dispersed from outside the commission's offices in Accra by police firing tear gas.

The NPP said in a statement that the National Democratic Congress had stolen votes across the country.

NDC candidate President John Mahama had a narrow lead over NPP rival Nana Akufo-Addo, according to local media.

Joy FM said based on partial results Mr Mahama looked likely to gain more than 50% of the vote, which would give him overall victory without needing a run-off vote.

Ghana, one of the world's fastest growing economies, is regarded as one of Africa's most stable democracies.

Mr Akufo-Addo lost the 2008 presidential poll by one percentage point, but accepted the result.

'Systematic stealing'

However, his party said they had "enough concrete evidence" to prove that he actually won this year's election.

Turnout was said to be roughly 90%, and voting continued into Saturday in some areas
"The ruling NDC conspired with certain EC staff in constituencies across the country to falsify the election results and thereby abuse the mandate of the people of Ghana," the party said.

"It was this planned, systematic stealing of votes at the collation level that was, thankfully, discovered in time."

The party cited discrepancies between initial tally sheets and the results reported in the media.
It said thousands of votes had been stolen from Mr Akufo-Addo and added to Mr Mahama's tally.

The opposition demanded an inquiry before official results are released.

Election commissioner Kwadwo Afari-Gyan told Reuters news agency he was not yet aware of the NPP complaint.

The NDC has not yet responded to the allegations.

Observers said Friday's vote, for a new president and parliament, passed off in a largely peaceful manner.

Some glitches with a new finger-printing system meant that voting continued into Saturday in some parts of the country.

The turnout was reported to be high, at roughly 80%.

As a top exporter of cocoa and gold, Ghana is one of the world's fastest-growing economies.
In 2011 it saw economic growth of 14% and experts predict growth of 8% for 2012 and in 2013.

CNN Reported;

Ghana president re-elected, a result opposition claims was 'manipulated'
From Nana Karikari-apau, CNN

(CNN) -- Ghana's election commission announced Sunday night that the West African nation's president won re-election, though the main opposition party says it has "credible evidence" the results were manipulated.

In a statement streamed live on the Internet, Electoral Commission Chairman Kwadwo Afari-Gyan declared "John Dramani Mahama president-elect" after securing 50.7% of the vote. Nana Akufo-Addo, the candidate for the New Patriotic Party (NPP), garnered 47.7% of the vote, according to the commission.

"We must celebrate together as Ghanaians and refrain from anything that will derail the peace and unity we have enjoyed over the years," Mahama told supporters after the result was announced.

But reiterating claims made earlier that the vote had been "manipulated," the New Patriotic Party issued a statement it has "credible evidence (that) undermines the integrity of the electoral process and the results."

"Substantial discrepancies have been discovered from results from coalition centers when compared with the official tally," the party said on its website. "Considering the closeness of the polls, this error is very significant and goes to the heart of the credibility of the results."

Ghanaians voted Friday and Saturday for a president and 275 parliamentary seats. According to the government's website, nearly 11 million citizens -- or about 80% of registered voters -- participated. Mahama is a member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Preliminary results reported by Ghanaian news outlets indicated Mahama was narrowly leading Akufo-Addo, the son of a former president.

That contradicted what NPP General Secretary Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie had said Saturday night, when he claimed Akufo-Addo had won the presidency with 51% of the vote.

The discrepancy prompted hundreds of NPP supporters to hit the streets Sunday to protest what their leaders describe as election fraud. Dressed in party T-shirts, they marched to the nation's Electoral Commission office chanting, "We want peace," according to the state-run Ghana News Agency.

"The results have been manipulated on so many levels," party spokesman Yaw Buaben Asamoa said.

Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, the NPP's chairman, had called -- without success -- for Sunday's official announcement of results from the election commission to put off until "all the allegations have been investigated."

He said tens of thousands of votes were added to Mahama's tally "following collusion" between National Democratic Congress and election officials, Ghana News Agency reported.
The NPP has asked Ghana's electoral commission to recount the vote and conduct an audit of voting machines "to help establish the credibility and accuracy of this year's presidential election.

"This in my view would assist considerably to allay public anxiety, which is growing hour by hour and due to the announcements being made in the Ghanaian media," Obetsebi-Lamptey wrote in a letter released by the party. "It would also obviate any legal and protracted judicial proceedings on the issues and permit the resolutions of our concerns promptly, to enable due declaration to be made."

NDC General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia told reporters his party was not yet responding to the NPP claims, expressing faith well before Sunday night's announcement by Ghana's election commission that Mahama was "moving towards victory."

Unlike its neighbors, Ghana has held successful elections and power transfers since 1992 without descending into bloody chaos. The electoral commission initially said it expected to declarethe winner within 72 hours after polls closed Friday.

Passions are running high, and the president urged candidates to ensure that their supporters avoid incitement.

"Ghana has organized five previous successful elections, and there should not be any reason why this year's election should not be successful," Mahama said in a statement.

Voting was extended into Saturday in areas where election materials arrived late or glitches with a new biometric identification system caused delays. Observers from the Economic Community of West African States noted some discrepancies and problems with voting procedures but described the vote as "generally peaceful and transparent."

Ghana is one of Africa's fastest-growing economies. It is the world's second-largest cocoa producer, after Ivory Coast, and the continent's second biggest gold miner, after South Africa, according to the United Nations.

But critics say that despite the rich resources that bring billions of dollars annually, the wealth is not trickling down to the rural poor who live on the land where the gold is mined.

Ghana was among the first African countries to gain independence from the British, breaking loose in 1957. It endured a series of coups before Lt. Jerry Rawlings took power in 1981. A decade later, it transitioned to a stable democracy with multiparty elections.

The Reuters website reported

Ghana's Mahama wins election, opposition cries foul


(Reuters) - Ghana's electoral authorities said on Sunday incumbent leader John Dramani Mahama won a new term as president in the West African state in an election the opposition claimed was marred by tampering.

Mahama, who replaced former president John Atta Mills after his death in July, took 50.7 percent of the ballots cast - just enough to avoid a run-off with his chief rival Nana Akufo-Addo.

"Based on the results, I declare President John Dramani Mahama president elect," Ghana Electoral Commission President Kwadwo Afari-Gyan told a news conference in the capital Accra.

In a brief speech at his residence following the results, an exhausted-looking Mahama said his win was a "victory for all Ghanaians", and urged the leaders of rival parties to "respect the voice of the people".

Supporters of Mahama drove through the streets of the sprawling seaside capital playing loud music, shouting, and honking their horns after the results.

The election is seen as a test of whether Ghana can maintain more than 30 years of stability and progress in a region better known for coups, civil wars and corruption.

A cliff-hanger election in 2008, in which Akufo-Addo lost by less than 1 percent, pushed the country to the brink of chaos, with disputes over results driving hundreds of people into the streets with clubs and machetes.

This year's election was fraught with delays after hundreds of newly-introduced electronic fingerprint readers - used to identify voters - failed on Friday and forced some polling stations to reopen on Saturday to clear the backlog.

Security forces used teargas to disperse hundreds of supporters of the Akufo-Addo's New Patriotic Party protesting in front of the electoral commission building shortly before the results were declared.

NPP Chairman Obetsebi-Lamptey said earlier in the day that he had evidence of electoral workers conspiring to rig tallies and added the party asked the electoral commission for an audit before full results are released.

Mahama has vowed to use rising oil revenues in Ghana, which started oil production in late 2010, to jumpstart development, create jobs, and combat poverty.

Akufo-Addo, a British-trained lawyer, had criticized the ruling party for failing to root out government graft and promised to provide free primary and secondary school education.

But in a country where campaign messages rarely influence voting choices, many believe most of Ghana's 14 million voters cast their ballots based on ethnic, social or regional ties.

Ghanaians are also electing a parliament, in which Mahama's party has enjoyed a slim majority. Results were not yet available for those races.

An oil-driven economic boom has brought more wealth to the country, but also fears that it could suffer the graft and turmoil that often plagues energy-rich developing nations.

TROUBLED POLLS

An NPP official was not immediately available to comment on the results, but observers said an official dispute was likely, raising fears of street unrest in the normally tranquil nation.

Ghana television stations aired long infomercials on Sunday, between election updates, showing clips of wars that have erupted in neighboring countries interspersed with testimonials from Ghanaians about the importance of maintaining peace.

"This election has been hard, but we must remember Ghanaians are one and we must love each other and remain peaceful," said Wellington Dadzie, 69, a former soldier who lives on the outskirts of the capital Accra, before the results.

Ghanaian authorities deployed some 41,000 police and soldiers to secure the election process.
Ghana has had five peaceful and constitutional transfers of power since its last coup in 1981. Its residents like to say "Ghana in peace, not in pieces".

Neighboring Ivory Coast tipped into civil war last year after a disputed 2010 poll and regional neighbors Mali and Guinea-Bissau have both suffered coups this year.

Oil production in Ghana - which is also a big cocoa and gold producer - started two years ago and oil field operator Tullow Oil says it expects to boost output further in 2013.

"These elections are important not just to Ghana but for the growing number of states and actors seeking to benefit from increasing confidence in Africa," said Alex Vines, Africa Research Director at Chatham House.

(Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Rosalind Russell)



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