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Elections

Ghana's opposition refuses to concede defeat

Although observers have praised the Ghanaian presidential election as being free and fair, the opposition intends to challenge the result in court. The NPP party chairman tells DW why.

DW: Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey, observers say the election was free and fair, despite some logistical challenges. So why are you taking the matter to court?

Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey: Because the result that was declared, according to the evidence that we have, did not actually reflect the votes that were cast.

What evidence do you have that the ballot was rigged?

We have done a re-collation of a number of constituencies and we have found enough evidence to persuade us that the ultimate numbers would be very different to what has been declared.

Chairman of the opposition New Patriotic Party Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey (Photo:PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey says a legal challenge is in the interests of democracy in Ghana

And the Supreme Court will find that there was a pattern and that the numbers were large enough to affect the verdict and so they can order the new numbers to be included, and then whatever comes out to be declared as the verdict for the first round.

Your NPP party has asked the electoral commission for an audit of the results. How has the Commission responded to that request?

We have a law here that says you may not vote unless you are biometrically verified. There's a little machine that verifies you by your finger prints and the law says without that you cannot vote. So we've asked for an independent audit of those machines to see how many people were actually authorized by the machines to vote and then compare that to the number of votes that the electoral commission declared as having been cast.

If this election was fraudulent, why wasn't that detected by the election observers?

Because the election observers are not part of the addition at the collation centers. They observe what is going on but they do not necessarily see everything that is added up and everything that is written down.

How much controversy is there within your party about this decision to take legal action. How divided is the party over this?

We decided it was a decision that the party management should take, so we called a National Executive Committee meeting and we put matters to them for them to debate and to advise what we should do. There was no dissention at all on the matter of going to court.

Some people would argue it would be in the interests of Ghana that your party concedes defeat. That would avoid unnecessary friction. What do you say to that?

I would say that would possibly be in the short term interest but it cannot be that you're having a democracy and that you allow an incumbent government to do the things that we believe were done.

Supporters of the ruling National Democratic Congress celebrate victory (Photo: REUTERS/Luc Gnago)

For the supporters of incumbent president Mahama, the result is the right one

Because if that perpetuates, there will come a time when people will suddenly realize that the vote is irrelevant, that the ballot is meaningless. And so since you cannot change government by the ballot, the only way to change government will be by the bullet and we'll be back to the dark ages of coups d'etat again - and we don't want that. We believe we have helped to bring about a new republic, a democratic republic. We are happy with the way that democracy has been working and also we think that, by going to court and establishing some of the things that did happen we will also be able to bring to task the Electoral Commission, because the electoral commission (although mandated by the constitution to organize elections) is not above the law. If indeed this referee is giving some very bad decisions, then it is time we expose the shortcomings of the referee so we can correct those shortcomings and strengthen the institutions that underpin our democracy.

Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey is the party chairman of Ghana's New Patriotic Party (NPP)

Interview: Mark Caldwell 

DW.DE