Tensions mounted in Ghana on Tuesday ahead of the declaration of the result of the country’s presidential election where opposition candidate John Atta-Mills has claimed victory.
Hundreds of opposition activists gathered outside the headquarters of the Electoral Commission where witnesses said police fired tear gas and warning shots on Monday night in a bid to disperse the crowd.
With 200 of the 230 constituencies counted, the commission said Atta-Mills of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) had 52,17% of the ballots against 47,9% for Nana Akufo-Addo of the ruling New Patriotic Party.
Atta-Mills said there had been an attempt at ”manipulation” of the results.
”The figures show clearly that I have won the election. I’m only waiting for the Electoral Commission [EC] to declare me winner. I’ve full confidence that the EC will do what is right,” Atta-Mills told journalists overnight.
The commission was expected to release full results from the election later on Tuesday.
Hundreds of opposition protestors kept an all-night vigil outside the commission headquarters in Accra in protest at perceived attempts to manipulate the outcome of Sunday’s vote.
Agence France-Presse reporters saw chanting activists, some wielding sticks, outside the heavily-guarded offices. A truck draped in NDC party flags was parked in the middle of a road nearby.
An opposition source alleged the ruling NPP and a commission member had tried to introduce a fresh set of ”bloated” figures from Ashanti region, an NPP stronghold.
The new figures, the source said, showed turnout way higher than initial figures from the same region transmitted earlier on Monday.
At an overnight news conference, Atta-Mills said he would not accept doctored results.
”I am not going to accept any fraudulent results from the electoral commission. It is very important that we respect the will of the people and not try to impose anybody to govern Ghanaians,” Mills told reporters at his office, which was also besieged by dozens of supporters.
”We have marshalled here because there are attempts at manipulation of the results. This vote is not going to be stolen, that is why we are here,” one protestor said.
”We even hear that the government [ruling party] is trying to go to court to stop the announcement of the results, we want the results now,” he added.
The ruling NPP criticised what it said was a premature claim of victory. ”It’s not over until it’s over … by the closeness of this election, anything could happen,” national chairperson Peter MacManu told journalists.
”While we are also very confident of victory, we have chosen, partly due to the inflamed passions and the closeness of the election, to wait for the electoral commission to do its work,” he said.
The election was forced into a run-off after the first round on December 7 failed to produce an outright winner.
Election observers reported more problems and lapses in the December 28 run-off than in the first round, but remained, on the whole, upbeat on the poll.
Yakubu Gowon, the former Nigerian head of state who heads a West African regional observer team, called the poll ”free, peaceful, transparent and credible”. — AFP