Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama held a slim lead over presidential election rival Nana Akufo-Addo on Sunday with nearly all votes counted, local media said, adding he was the likely winner.
Privately owned Joy News television, based on provisional results from 261 of 275 districts, said Mahama had 50.03 per cent and Akufo-Addo 48.05 per cent.
The station added that “Mahama is the likely president-elect of Ghana.” However the electoral commission had not made any declaration.
It based its finding on trends of already tallied votes in addition to an analysis of outstanding districts, it said. It also reported that turnout was at 81 percent.
Ghana’s presidential and parliamentary polls were held on Friday, but polling stations in some areas re-opened on Saturday after a new biometric system and late delivery of materials led to delays.
The stakes are especially high in a nation with a booming economy fuelled by a new and expanding oil industry. Ghana is also seeking to further burnish its credentials as a stable democracy in turbulent West Africa.
Earlier, the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and its main opposition rival the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had each claimed victory from provisional results, prompting a reprimand from the National Peace Council, a non-governmental lobby.
The NDC did not give any figures at their late Saturday press conference, but the NPP’s secretary-general, Mr John Owusu-Afriyie, claimed their candidate had garnered 51.3 per cent of the vote as against 45.50 per cent for incumbent.
He even asked party faithful to dress up in white clothes on Sunday to celebrate the “victory”.
At the time of the media circus, provisional figures showed President Mahama was holding onto a slight lead.
Rev Emmanuel Asante of the NPC described the NPP’s announcement as “premature and inconsistent with the law, which only mandates the Electoral Commission (EC) to declare elections results.”
Earlier in the day, some NPP activists had stormed the premises of a private company which they claimed was being used to manipulate the election results.
In a swift rejoinder, the EC chairman Kwadwo Afari-Gyan denied the commission had contracted any private organisation to collate results on its behalf.
“We wish to state emphatically that no such engagement has been made, neither is the Commission doing electronic transmission of results”, he said.