Ghana’s opposition leader was declared the winner of presidential elections late Friday, securing the country’s highest office on his third attempt and helping to cement the West African nation’s reputation as a model for democracy on the continent.
Nana Akufo-Addo, the 72-year old Oxford-educated lawyer and leader of the New Patriotic Party, accepted a concession from President John Mahama of the National Democratic Congress. Shortly afterward, Ghana’s Electoral Commission formally declared Mr. Akufo-Addo had won 53.8% of the vote to Mr. Mahama’s 44.4%.
“I make this solemn pledge to you tonight: I will not let you down,” Mr. Akufo-Addo told a jubilant crowd gathered at his residence in the capital, Accra. “I will do all in my power to live up to your hopes and expectations.”
The official result sparked wild celebrations from NPP supporters, who had been gathering and dancing throughout the day as exit polls suggested their party was headed for a clear victory.
The outcome marked the third time since 2000 that a Ghanaian government has been voted out of office, underscoring the country’s record of hotly contested but peaceful elections. The result also capped a remarkable two weeks for politics in West Africa after Gambian President Yahya Jammeh was defeated in elections last week and then on Friday took to the airwaves to ominously announce he rejected the result.
In Ghana, where democratic norms have long been embedded, the result came with only minor infractions. Commentators said the margin of victory would likely prevent the kind of legal challenge to the vote that paralyzed much of the country’s bureaucracy for months after Mr. Akufo-Addo contested Mr. Mahama’s 2012 election victory.
Mr. Mahama addressed his supporters shortly after conceding late Friday. “As president, I have done my bit. I have made a contribution to the political, social and economic development of our country. I would have cherished an opportunity to do even more, but I respect the will of the Ghanaian people,” he said.
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