Two local media outlets in Ghana have claimed that main opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo has won the country’s presidential election. The private radio stations Joy FM and Citi FM said on Friday that Akufo-Addo, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate, gained an absolute majority over incumbent President John Mahama from the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the election, which was held on Wednesday.
The country’s electoral commission has yet to begin releasing official results. The count is proceeding at a slow pace and the electoral agency said it needed 72 hours since the closing of the polls to publish final results. “Please be patient,” commission head Charlotte Osei told reporters on Thursday, adding, “Accuracy is more important than speed.” The two local media sources, however, said Akufo-Addo had won between 53-55 percent of the vote, and Mahama around 45 percent. Akufo-Addo, 72, who has served as attorney general and foreign minister in the past, had failed in two previous bids for the post of president, in 2008 and 2012.
The 57-year-old Mahama is running for a second term as president. While Election Day itself was relatively peaceful, there are fears that the delay in declaring the result could stoke tensions. In a statement issued late Thursday, the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers “condemned” Akufo-Addo after the challenger claimed he had beaten Mahama. The election observers urged “all political parties and citizens to be law-abiding and to allow the electoral commission to complete its work.” Ghana is believed to be one of Africa’s most stable countries. Its two main political parties, the NDC with 146 parliamentary seats and the NPP with 121, regularly hold peaceful and highly competitive elections.
On Wednesday, the West African country held parliamentary elections as well. The elections come against the backdrop of a struggling economy. Ghana’s economy has endured a growing public deficit, high inflation, and a weakening currency since 2013. Until then, the country had been one of Africa’s most dynamic economies. The current slump is attributed in part to a fall in the price of its commodity exports. The West African country exports gold, oil, and cocoa. The economic slowdown forced the African country to appeal to international lenders for bailout amounting to one billion dollars in 2015. Ghana has a population of approximately 26 million people.