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Ghanaian opposition to contest election results

Ghana's main opposition party said on Tuesday that it plans to challenge presidential election results in court after having alleged a "pattern of fraud" in incumbent John Dramani Mahama's victory.

Ghana’s main opposition party says that it plans to contest the results of the recent presidential election.

New Patriotic Party Chairman Jake Obetsebi Lamptey said Tuesday that the party has widespread evidence of fraud after last Friday’s election, which was won by incumbent President John Dramani Mahama.

“We are going to court,” Lamptey told reporters. “With the abundant evidence we have gathered, the (party) cannot therefore accept the declared results of the election.”

He said the party had instructed its legal team to file a petition in Ghana’s supreme court. On Monday, the president of the African Union visited opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo (pictured above), a 68-year-old human rights lawyer, to convince him to concede defeat in the interest of safeguarding Ghana’s reputation for peace.

According to the electoral commission, 54-year-old Mahama won the election held over Friday and Saturday with 50.70% of the votes cast, compared with Akufo-Addo's 47.74%. The election was deemed transparent by international observers.

On Monday, Akufo-Addo, the son of a former president, stressed his party’s conviction of irregularities. “There would seem to be a serious case for saying something seriously went wrong,” he told reporters at his home. “It shouldn't be that on the surface we have democracy, but underneath we have something else. We want the democracy of Ghana to be a genuine one.”

Akufo-Addo also contested the 2008 election, in which he lost by less than 1%. The poll pushed the country to the brink of chaos, with disputes over results driving hundreds of people into the streets with clubs and machetes.

Beacon of stability no more?

This year’s results have raised fears of further unrest in a country which had previously managed decades of successful democratic changes of power, despite its location in the heart of west Africa’s so-called “coup belt”.

Former vice president Mahama has only been head of state since July, following the death of his predecessor John Atta Mills. The president-elect received welcomed support from Washington on Monday as the White House urged all Ghanaians to accept the result of their election and congratulated him on his victory.

Several hundred NPP supporters took to the streets of the capital Accra on Tuesday in support of Akufo-Addo.

Stakes in this year’s election were especially high in the country of 24 million people, with a booming economy fueled in part by a new and expanding oil industry.

Ghana is also a top exporter of cocoa and gold, which enjoyed an economic growth of 14% in 2011.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

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