/ 10 December 2020

Post-election violence mars otherwise calm poll

Ghana Vote
Close call: People watch the count of ballots at a polling station after the vote for the presidential election on 7 December. (Cristina Aldehuela/AFP)

Five people have been killed in election-related violence in Ghana, police said this week, casting a shadow over a country hailed for its stable democracy.

The deaths were reported as early results confirmed a tight race for the presidency. Ghana’s neighbours urged political camps to uphold a peaceful outcome after trading heated accusations.

“Sixty-one electoral and post-electoral incidents nationwide” were reported, the police said in a statement.

Of these, 21 “are true cases of electoral violence, six of which involve gunshots resulting in the death of five”.

President Nana Akufo-Addo has won a second term, beating opposition candidate John Mahama.

Monday’s presidential and parliamentary vote has been viewed by observers as generally free and fair.

But Mahama late on Tuesday accused Akufo-Addo of showing “credentials that are very undemocratic” and harnessing the military to sway the outcome.

“You cannot use the military to try and overturn some of the results in constituencies that we have won. We will resist any attempts to subvert the sovereign will of the Ghanaian people,” the former president said. 

Mahama made the accusations after rumours circulated on social media that he had conceded defeat.

Hours earlier, the presidency, releasing an unofficial tally, claimed Akufo-Addo was ahead with 52.25% of the vote, against Mahama’s 46.44%.

Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah told a press conference that allegations of intimidation by soldiers were false. 

He also bluntly rejected Mahama’s claim that his party had won a majority of 140 seats in the 275-member parliament.

“No candidates at this stage should undermine the work of the EC [electoral commission]. It is irresponsible and it would endanger the peace of this country,” Oppong Nkrumah warned.

Mahama and Akufo-Addo are old rivals who have faced off at the ballot box twice before. Both of those elections were determined by small margins. Mahama was president for four years until 2016, before being succeeded by Akufo-Addo. 

Despite the sharp words, Ghana has a history of electoral stability and grievances are typically pursued through the courts. 

On Friday, before the elections, Akufo-Addo and Mahama signed a symbolic peace pact, which the 15-nation regional bloc, the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas) urged “all political parties and their leadership to respect”.

In a statement, Ecowas said: “We appeal to political parties and their followers to refrain from any conduct that may undermine the successful conclusion of the electoral process.” AFP