Accra: Ghanaian incumbent John Dramani Mahama has been declared winner of closely fought presidential polls, but the opposition alleged fraud in a nation that has been seen as a model of African democracy.
The electoral commission announced the result after a day of twists and turns linked to the vote on Friday and Saturday, with the stakes especially high in a country with a booming economy fuelled partly by newly discovered oil.
Results compiled by local media had early yesterday pointed to a Mahama win, leading the opposition to strongly reject them, allege fraud and claim it had evidence that its candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo, was the actual winner.
According to the electoral commission, Mahama won with 50.70 per cent compared to Akufo-Addo's 47.74 per cent. With eight candidates in the race, more than 50 per cent was needed to avoid a second-round runoff.
"Ladies and gentlemen, based on the results given, I declare John Dramani Mahama president-elect," electoral commission chief Kwadwo Afari-Gyan announced to journalists. Turnout was put at more than 79 per cent.
There was no immediate statement from either Mahama or Akufo-Addo, and the electoral commission head did not address the fraud claims in his announcement.
It was not immediately clear whether the opposition would seek to challenge the results in court or elsewhere.
Observers from the Commonwealth, West African bloc ECOWAS and local group CODEO have all said the vote appeared peaceful and transparent.
The opposition however issued a scathing statement even before the official results were announced alleging fraud.
"Indeed, we have enough concrete evidence to show that the 2012 presidential election was won by our candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo," the New Patriotic Party said.
"We have noticed a pattern of fraud, where substantial numbers of votes are either added to the NDC (National Democratic Congress) candidate or subtracted from the NPP presidential candidate."
It demanded an audit of collated vote figures as well as of data from the biometric verification machines used in the election.