Incumbent John Dramani Mahama won a new term as president in Ghana in an election the opposition claimed was marred by vote-rigging, Reuters reports.
Mr Mahama, who replaced John Atta Mills after his death in July, took 50.7 per cent of the ballots cast – just enough to avoid a run-off with his chief rival, Nana Akufo-Addo, according to the state election commission.
“Based on the results, I declare President John Dramani Mahama president-elect,” Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the Ghana Electoral Commission president, told a news conference in the capital Accra on Sunday.
The election was regarded as a test of whether Ghana would be able to build on more than 30 years of stability and progress in a region better known for coups, civil wars and corruption.
A cliffhanger election in 2008, in which Mr Akufo-Addo lost by less than 1 per cent, pushed the country to the brink of chaos, with disputes over results driving hundreds of people into the streets with clubs and machetes.
This year’s election suffered numerous delays after hundreds of newly-introduced electronic fingerprint readers – used to identify voters – failed on Friday and forced some polling stations to reopen on Saturday to clear the backlog.
Security forces used teargas to disperse hundreds of supporters of Mr Akufo-Addo’s New Patriotic Party demonstrating in front of the electoral commission building shortly before the results were declared.
The protests came after Jacob Obetsebi-Lamptey, the NPP chairman, said he had evidence of electoral workers conspiring to rig the vote. He said the party had asked the electoral commission for an audit before full results were released.
Mr Mahama has vowed to use rising oil revenues in Ghana, which started oil production in late 2010, to kick-start development, create jobs and combat poverty.
Mr Akufo-Addo, a British-trained lawyer, had criticised the ruling party for failing to root out government corruption and promised to provide free primary and secondary school education.
But in a country where campaign messages rarely influence voting choices, many believe most of Ghana’s 14m voters cast their ballots on ethnic, social or regional ties.
Ghanaians are also electing a parliament, in which Mr Mahama’s party has enjoyed a slim majority. Results are not yet available.