Ghanaians are anxiously awaiting the results of Wednesday’s tightly-contested presidential elections. The country’s electoral commission says that counting and result collation has begun and a winner could be announced as early as Thursday evening local time. Despite early concerns about the credibility of the elections and reports of pockets of violence around the country, voter enthusiasm remained high, according to the AP.
Incumbent President John Dramani Mahama of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) is seeking re-election and a second four-year term, but his main challenger, Nana Akufo-Addo, of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is expected to make it a tight race.
Determined to have their say on who becomes the leader of one of West Africa’s strongest democracies, long lines quickly formed at polling stations on Wednesday morning as Ghanaians came out in huge numbers to vote.
Provisional results released early on Thursday showed that the vote count from six of the country’s 275 constituencies revealed no clear favorite, with President Mahama receiving 62,930 of the votes counted, while Akufo-Addo received 62,220 votes.
Late Wednesday night, the electoral commission announced that its website had been hacked, causing its custom-built election results app to crash. The website was down for about for about four hours as officials struggled to regain control.
In a tweet, the commission dismissed what it described as a “fake result” being shared and circulated on social media.
President Mahama has campaigned on a platform pushing for political stability and the continuity of government policies and programs. He contends that a vote against his party could roll back most of his administration’s achievements over the past four years.
Nana Akufo-Addo and his supporters however blame the country’s current economic woes on what they describe as the ineptitude and corruption of Mahama’s government. Akufo-Addo has promised to build a factory in each of the county’s provinces as a way to create much needed jobs. He has also vowed to deliver free education to the country’s teeming youths.
“We need change in Ghana because things are very difficult,” Stephen Antwi Boasiako a taxi driver explained.
“This country has a lot of resources that can provide good jobs, but they’re not used. I blame the Mahama government 100 percent.”
Besides President Mahama and his main challenger Akufo-Addo, five other minor candidates contested in the election. One of them is former first lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, who made history by becoming the first Ghanaian woman to run for president.
There are 15 million registered voters in Ghana and the country’s electoral law stipulates that a run-off would decide the election results if no candidate secures at least 50 percent of votes. Wednesday’s polls were monitored by election observers from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union, and representatives from the European Union.
BY MARK BABATUNDE