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Democracy

Ghana awaits ruling on legality of presidential election

Tension is rising in Ghana in the run-up to a Supreme Court ruling on an opposition petition challenging last December's presidential election results. The opposition say results were manipulated.

Next Thursday (29.08.2013) Ghana's Supreme Court is due to deliver its verdict in an election petition case which it has been deliberating for several months. The petition was filed by leading members of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) after presidential elections were held in December 2012. The candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Mahama, was declared the winner by the country's election commission. However that result has been challenged by opposition candidate Nana Akufo-Addo.

Opposition presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo, during his final campaign rally (Photo:Christian Thompson/AP/dapd)

NPP candidate Nana Akufo-Addo (center) is challenging the election result

Akufo-Addo and his colleagues argue that the election was flawed by several irregularities which tilted the balance in favor of Mahama. They say the ruling party conspired with election commission staff to falsify the results in a number of constituencies. There were also glitches with a new biometric voting system which led to polling being extended into a second day in some parts of the country. The legal process to examine the complaints has taken over eight months. In early August, lawyers for both parties made their final submissions to the Supreme Court judges.

In an interview with DW, NPP national chairman Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey said live televison and radio coverage of proceedings had ensured that people were well informed about the case.

"Whatever decision the judges come to has to be related to the evidence that people have seen and heard about and why it has been given whatever weight it has been given," he said.

Now that the final decision is just a few days away, feelings of anxiety are growing that there may be violence, depending which way the verdict goes, says DW's Ghana correspondent Isaac Kaledzi.

Several campaigns, many led by religious associations, have been launched to encourage Ghanaians to respect the ruling. The president of the country's Catholic Bishops' Conference, Most Reverend Joseph Osei-Bonsu, addressed a press conference and appealed for calm from supporters of both parties. "Whatever we do, we must always think 'Ghana first'," he said.

Thousands of Mahama supporters at a pre-election rally (Photo: Eszter Farkas dpa)

Mahama supporters turned out in force ahead of the December 2012 elections

Similar sentiments were expressed by John Mahama, who the election commission said had won 50.7 percent of votes in the December election, thereby avoiding a run-off against the NPP candidate who garnered 47.7 percent.

"Adjudication by the Supreme Court is a part of our democratic governance, and whatever verdict the court comes out with, we should be prepared as a nation to accept. We should all remind each other that this country is bigger than all of us," Mahama said in a speech at Flagstaff House, the presidential palace in Accra.

NPP communications director, Nana Akomea, declared that Nana Akufo-Addo "personally has fought for democracy literally all his life."

The NPP candidate previously lost a 2008 run-off by just one percentage point. The 2012 election was judged by international observers to have been free and fair.

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