Ghana's Supreme Court rejects opposition challenge to 2012 vote

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 29, 2013 9:21 AM

ACCRA (Reuters) - Ghana's Supreme Court on Thursday rejected an opposition challenge to President John Mahama's victory in December's presidential election, ending months of legal wrangling in the oil- and cocoa-exporting African nation.

Mahama won December's vote with 50.7 percent of the ballot but the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) had alleged fraud ranging from inflated tallies to the participation of unregistered voters.

"The overall effect is that the first respondent (Mahama) was validly elected and the petition is therefore dismissed," Justice William Atuguba, president of the nine-member panel, told a hearing.

Most shops in the central Accra were shuttered and the streets were quiet as many Ghanaians watched the verdict at home. Police had sealed off the main streets leading to the court, where helicopters hovered overhead, part of a deployment of 30,000 officers nationwide in case of any violence.

Both Mahama and opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo have pledged to accept the ruling and have asked their followers to do same.

The ruling should ease uncertainty in one of Africa's brightest frontier markets, which has built a reputation for political stability in turbulent West Africa.

However, analysts said investors' attention would now shift back to the government's efforts to trim a budget deficit which climbed to more than 12 percent of GDP last year.

"Although an important element of uncertainty has been removed with the court verdict, it is unlikely that we will see a significant market impact," said Razia Khan, Africa analyst at Standard Chartered bank. "Investors will pay careful attention to any measures aimed at achieving fiscal consolidation."

(Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Writing by Daniel Flynn; Editing by Bate Felix)