Ghanaians awaited results on Tuesday from presidential and parliamentary elections that passed off peacefully, reaffirming the country’s reputation for stability in a troubled region.
Results are expected to be close between President Nana Akufo-Addo, 76, of the center-right New Patriotic Party (NPP) running for a second term, and his predecessor, John Mahama, of the centre-left National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Residents of the seaside capital Accra went about their daily routines as normal on Tuesday — among them was Abdulkarim Al Hassan, repairing mobile phones in a small shop.
“I’m happy that there was no conflict or confusion but I’m sad that my winner appears to be losing,” said the 32-year-old who voted for Mahama.
“I’m disappointed but life goes on.”
Provisional estimates were put out by the presidency Tuesday morning but only the electoral commission can release official results.
According to the presidency’s tally from 91 percent of polling stations, Akufo-Addo received 52.25 percent of votes and Mahama 46.44 percent.
– ‘Isolated challenges’ –
The electoral commission has urged the public to wait, saying it was “working round the clock to ensure that the collated results are accurate and a true reflection of the will of the people”.
“The commission will release all the certified results as soon as they are received,” it said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.
At a polling station in Accra’s Jamestown neighbourhood, dozens of election staff spent the night counting ballots while party officials, journalists, and election observers watched, some half asleep.
Outside the gates, guarded by a police tank and a handful of armed guards, some residents of the poor neighbourhood were nervous.
“People are saying NDC won but I voted NPP!” said Rebecca Vorsah, a 20-year-old student among the nation’s 17 million registered voters.
Some 12,000 observers deployed on the voting day across Ghana gave the process a clean bit of health with just a few incidents of intimidation reported.
“While there were some challenges, these challenges were isolated and did not undermine the process’s overall credibility,” a coalition of observers, CODEO, said in a statement Tuesday.
– Economic woes ahead –
There has never been a second-round in Ghanaian elections and the two main parties have handed over power peacefully seven times since the return of democracy more than 30 years ago.
Post-electoral grievances have always been pursued through the courts.
Twelve candidates overall are vying for the nation’s top job while members of parliament are competing for 275 seats.
To ensure its continued tradition of peaceful polls, the two main presidential candidates Akufo-Addo and Mahama on Friday signed a symbolic peace pact.
The stability in Ghana contrasts with that of other countries in the region, with deadly unrest this year in Guinea and Ivory Coast.
Key issues that voters want the next government to address included unemployment, infrastructure, education, and health.
The world’s second-largest cocoa-producing country has made giant strides in the last 20 years but many people still live in extreme poverty and the country faces mounting debt.