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August 29, 2013

Ghana Court Rejects Challenge to President's Election

by Joana Mantey

The Supreme Court of Ghana has rejected a challenge to the validity of the 2012 polls that saw John Mahama elected as president. The opposition New Patriotic Party [NPP] had sought to annul the election on grounds of fraud.
 
The NPP claimed a number of irregularities occurred during the 2012 elections, including over-voting, voting without biometric verification and voting with duplicate serial numbers. It petitioned the Supreme Court for the elections to be annulled.

Mahama, of the governing National Democratic Congress [NDC] won the presidential poll with 50.7 percent of the vote, about 300,000 more than the NPP’s Nana Akuffo Addo, in an election contested by eight candidates.

The court ruled Thursday in a 5-4 decision that President Mahama was validly elected.

George Lawson, the deputy general secretary of the NDC, said “We have been vindicated because the things they sent to court had no standing or grounding, and it has been proven today and we are happy. The way forward is now to be focused and see how best we can shape the economy and [fulfill] the promises that we made to Ghanaians.”

Both parties in the case had said they would accept the court’s verdict, and after it was handed down Thursday NPP’s Akuffo Addo did just that. He told reporters it is important for Ghana to tread on a path that builds, rather than destroys.

“I have just called President John Dramani Mahama and have now congratulated him on being elected the fourth president of the fourth republic of our country. Whilst I disagree with the court's decision, I accept it.  I accept what the court says brings finality to the election dispute. We shall not be asking for a review of the verdict so we can all move on in the interest of our nation," said Addo.

Initial reaction shows there is some calm in the country. Some Ghanaian workers expressed their sentiments about the outcome. They include Awura Abena and Maxwell, both residents of Accra.

"It has been a long struggle. This period has tested our democracy," said Abena. "No matter your political affiliation, you should be able to say that the victory is for Ghana."

"This has put the electoral system to scrutiny. I am sure the Electoral Commission would look at the system and make it watertight. Some quality must be looked out for so that at the end of the day, the electoral laws would be strictly adhered to," said Maxwell.

The government deployed 30,000 police around the country before the ruling, bracing for possible unrest. But there were no reports of rioting or unrest in the hours after the court's decision.