Bloomberg News

Ghana Opposition to Contest Presidential Vote After Loss

December 11, 2012

Ghana’s main opposition party said it will challenge the results of a presidential election in court as supporters protested the defeat of its leader, Nana Akufo-Addo, in the capital, Accra.

“We are taking our matter to the Supreme Court, and they will decide the fate of this elections,” Akufo-Addo told a rally of his supporters in the city today as he urged them to stay calm. “We know we won this election. The truth of this election will come out however long it takes.”

The 68-year-old leader of the New Patriotic Party got 47.7 percent of votes in the Dec. 7 and Dec. 8 elections, while John Dramani Mahama of the ruling National Democratic Congress won with 50.7 percent, according to the Electoral Commission. Six other candidates received the rest of the votes.

President-elect John Mahama, 54, who came to office in July following the death of John Atta Mills, faces calls from Ghanaians to spread more equally the benefits from oil production that began in 2010 and rising output of gold. The economy expanded at the fastest pace in Africa last year at 14.4 percent. It’s projected to grow 8.2 percent this year and 7.8 percent in 2013, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Cedi Weakens

Ghana’s cedi, which has fallen 13 percent against the dollar this year, weakened 0.2 percent to 1.8953 a dollar by 6:10 p.m. in Accra as investors “became nervous about court challenges” which may annul or change vote results, Coura Fall, a sub-Saharan Africa strategist at Citigroup Inc. in Johannesburg, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

The cedi is the third-worst performer this year of 22 African currencies monitored by Bloomberg. The yield on the country’s $750 million of Eurobonds eased seven basis points to 4.96 percent. A basis point is one hundredth of a percentage point.

The legal team of the NPP is “checking the robustness of the evidence” and a court appearance will be made within the next few days, Chairman Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey told reporters today.

“This is not a matter of getting power or being in power, it’s a matter of strengthening our democracy,” he said. “If we find that there are flaws within the Electoral Commission itself, then we need to bring it to the people of this country so that they stop treating the commission as if it’s not answerable to the law.”

Discredit Party

The NPP will “exhaust all the legal means available to them,” Kissy Agyeman-Togobo, an Accra-based partner with Songhai Advisory LLP, said in an interview.

The army and anti-riot police went to the NPP headquarters and the area around one of Accra’s biggest transportation hubs, Kwame Nkrumah Circle, where Akufo-Addo supporters handed out papers they said showed the discrepancies in the vote tally.

One man was stabbed “by one of the NPP supporters” and taken to hospital, Christian Tetteh Yohuno, deputy Accra regional police commander, said by phone. “Other people who walked by in NDC shirts or drove with NDC signs on their cars were also attacked, but we were able to save the situation and averted violence.”

If the NPP is unable to produce evidence to support its claim of systematic electoral fraud, “then its legal challenge will discredit the party itself, more so than Ghana and its democratic processes,” Ben Payton, Africa analyst at Bath, U.K.-based risk analysis company Maplecroft, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

Deficit Widens

In a speech celebrating his victory in the polls, Mahama on Dec. 9 called for unity and a “spirit of cooperation.”

Investor confidence in Ghana may be affected if a court case becomes a protracted legal battle that prevents the government from “addressing its most urgent priorities, particularly the structural deficit,” Payton said.

Ghana’s budget deficit widened to 7.3 percent of gross domestic product in the first nine months of the year from 1.9 percent a year earlier, according to the central bank. By the end of the year, the gap may reach 7.5 percent, according to Razia Khan, head of Africa research at Standard Chartered Plc in London.

During the campaign, Mahama pledged to reduce the deficit to 5 percent, keep inflation below 10 percent and boost economic growth to at least 8 percent annually.

Foreign observers including the Commonwealth Observer Group and the Economic Community of West African States have deemed the vote credible, urging all political parties to accept the results.

Olive Branches

The results announced by the electoral commission “accurately reflect” the ballots cast on voting day, Justice Vincent Crabbe, co-chair of the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers, which deployed 4,500 people nationwide to monitor the polls, said yesterday.

“President Mahama is adept at political reconciliation and will likely extend several olive branches, including possibly a few cabinet posts, to NPP leaders and others outside of the ruling party,” Eurasia Group analysts Philippe de Pontet and James Clinton Francis said in an e-mailed note.

Tullow Oil Plc operates Ghana’s Jubilee crude field, while AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. and Newmont Mining Corp. (NEM:US) mine gold in Africa’s second-biggest producer of the metal.

To contact the reporters on this story: Pauline Bax in Accra at pbax@bloomberg.net; Ekow Dontoh in Accra at edontoh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Emily Bowers at ebowers1@bloomberg.net


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