, ACCRA, Ghana, Dec 9 – Ghana opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo has come under fire after claiming to have won a tense presidential election, even though local media put him slightly ahead on Friday.
Akufo-Addo is running against incumbent John Mahama in a nail-biting election seen as a test for a country generally viewed as a beacon of stability in west Africa.
However, tensions were rising in Ghana as anxious citizens awaited the results of Wednesday’s elections that were tainted by sporadic incidents of violence.
In a statement issued late Thursday, the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers “condemned” Akufo-Addo after the challenger said he was “quietly confident” he had beaten Mahama.
The deputy general secretary of Mahama’s New Democratic Congress (NDC) also dismissed Akufo-Addo’s claim as “ridiculous.”
However, the “polling and counting processes were generally credible,” said the coalition of election observers, urging “all political parties and citizens to be law abiding and to allow the electoral commission to complete its work.”
The count is proceeding at a slow pace and the electoral agency said it needed 72 hours from the polls closing — on Wednesday — to publish the final official results.
“Please be patient,” commission head Charlotte Osei told reporters on Thursday. “Accuracy is more important than speed.”
While election day itself was relatively peaceful, there are fears that the delay in declaring the result could stoke tensions.
After doing their own calculations from publicly available constituency results, local media reported that Akufo-Addo had the lead.
PeaceFM put Akufo-Addo in the lead with 53.65 percent of the vote calculated from 210 of the 275 constituencies.
CitiFM also gave the opposition leader the edge with 56.45 percent of the vote calculated from 187 constituencies.
Charismatic Mahama, 58, is running for a second term. The leader of the ruling NDC party has urged voters to “stay the course”, promising to deliver more infrastructure projects.
Akufo-Addo, 72, is making his third and likely final bid for the highest office.
His New Patriotic Party (NPP) has blasted Ghana’s poor economic growth estimated at 3.3 percent in 2016 — the slowest rate in two decades — and outlined how to get the economy back on track.