Ghana opposition leader wins presidential election, radio stations say

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Ghanaian presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo of the NPP speaks during a press conference at his private home in Accra

By Kwasi Kpodo and Matthew Mpoke Bigg

ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghana’s main opposition leader, Nana Akufo-Addo, has won the West African country’s presidential election with an absolute majority over President John Mahama, two influential private radio stations said on Friday.

Ghana is a beacon of democracy in a region that has seen a series of civil wars and coups with a record of peaceful elections in which power has alternated between two main parties.

Joy FM’s website showed Akufo-Addo winning 53.27 percent of the vote and Mahama on 44.93 percent, based on its count of 233 constituencies out of 275 in total. Citi FM gave Akufo-Addo 54.97 percent based on 231 constituencies.

If confirmed, the results would represent a bigger margin of victory than either party has achieved in recent elections and validate Akufo-Addo who lost by narrow margins in 2008 and 2012.

Mahama appealed for calm and told his supporters he would respect the outcome of Wednesday’s vote whether he won or lost, in comments aimed at defusing tension ahead of the release of official results expected Saturday.

“I want to assure the nation that we will respect the outcome of the election, positive or negative, and so let us just be calm,” he told supporters gathered outside his house.

His campaign chief said on Friday the party lost many parliamentary seats but hopes to win the presidency.

The country is eagerly awaiting official results but Ghana Electoral Commissioner Charlotte Osei said they would be announced by Saturday once technical issues had been resolved.

She said turnout was “pretty disappointing” at around 49 percent based on the figures received so far.

CAMPAIGN THEME

Akufo-Addo’s main campaign theme was that his New Patriotic Party (NPP) could better manage an economy that has slowed since Mahama took power in 2013.

The former foreign minister, 72, also said his party had also picked up 49 seats in parliament. The ruling National Democratic Congress says it has lost its parliamentary majority.

Ghana had one of the most dynamic economies of Africa for years but GDP growth slowed in part due to lower global prices for the country’s exports of gold, cocoa and oil.

The government is mid-way through an International Monetary Fund program to restore fiscal stability in the face of an increased budget deficit, high public debt, inflation and a currency that has halved in value since 2014.

The NPP supported the IMF program and has presented detailed plans for the country in line with its free market and conservative ideology. These include giving each district around $1 million per year to spend on development projects.

The cedi currency was not directly impacted by the early results. It rallied before the

(Editing by Edward McAllister and Ralph Boulton)

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