Five people have been killed in electoral violence in Ghana as tensions escalate during a hotly contested race which both sides say are on track to win.
The Ghanaian police service said it recorded more than 60 incidents in Monday’s vote, in which President Nana Akufo-Addo stood for re-election against his main rival, former President John Mahama, and 10 others candidates.
“Twenty-one of the incidents are genuine electoral violence, six of which involve gunfire resulting in the death of five,” he said.
Independent observers this week praised Ghana for conducting largely peaceful polls, in keeping with its reputation as one of West Africa’s most stable democracies.
But tensions have mounted as Mahama and Akufo-Addo camps say their tally shows their candidate ahead.
“There were problems on election day regarding the voting procedure, and then immediately after the vote there were complaints about how the result was settled,” said Ahmed Idris of Al Jazeera, report by ‘Accra.
“What we are hearing right now is that in the town of Tamale there have been protests from the opposition party, claiming that there were irregularities and attempts to subvert with the will people.
“Here too, in the capital of Accra, we understand that there was an incident at the headquarters of the electoral commission. And we have seen in the last few minutes or so that the military police and other paramilitary organizations are ensuring that there is no breach of public order. “
The official results of the electoral commission are expected later Wednesday.
Monday’s poll was seen by observers as generally free and fair, but the political climate deteriorated Tuesday night when Mahama accused his rival of showing “very undemocratic credentials.”
Akufo-Addo, he alleged, had mobilized the army in an attempt to influence the outcome.
“You can’t use the military to try to reverse some of the results in the ridings that we won. We will resist any attempt to overthrow the sovereign will of the Ghanaian people, ”said the 62-year-old former president.
Mahama made the accusations after rumors circulated on social media that he had conceded defeat.
Hours earlier, the presidency – releasing an unofficial tally – claimed Akufo-Addo led with 52.25% of the vote, compared to 46.44% for Mahama.
Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah told a press conference that the allegations of intimidation by soldiers were false.
He also bluntly rejected Mahama’s claim that his center-left Democratic National Congress (NDC) won a 140-seat majority in the 275-member parliament.
“No candidate at this stage should undermine the work of the EC [electoral commission], it is irresponsible and it would endanger the peace of this country ”, warned Oppong Nkrumah.
European Union chief observer Javier Nart told a press conference on Wednesday that “Ghanaians voted freely”.
“Although there were isolated violent incidents, both on polling day and during the campaign… fears of violence and vigilance, thankfully, did not materialize. These were isolated minor incidents, some of them tragic. “
Mahama and Akufo-Addo, 76, are old rivals who have faced each other at the polls twice before.
Mahama was president for four years until 2016 before being replaced by Akufo-Addo. These two elections were determined by small margins.