ACCRA - The opposition candidate in Ghana's presidential polls said on Monday he was not ready to concede defeat and wanted true democracy for the country, but was unsure whether to challenge the results in court.
Nana Akufo-Addo, a 68-year-old human rights lawyer, made the comments after his party alleged fraud in the election won by incumbent John Dramani Mahama and as the country sought to maintain its reputation as a model African democracy.
"For me, the image of Ghana shouldn't be a falsehood," Akufo-Addo told reporters at his home.
"It shouldn't be that on the surface we have democracy, but underneath we have something else. We want the democracy of Ghana to be a genuine one."
The son of a former president said "there would seem to be a serious case for saying something seriously went wrong", but added that the party was continuing to investigate and would decide how to proceed. He expected a decision in the coming days.
A crowd of loyalists had gathered outside Akufo-Addo's house in support for the candidate, who lost 2008 elections by less than one percentage point.
Late in the afternoon, Benin’s President Thomas Boni Yayi, also the current head of the African Union, visited Akufo-Addo's home and the two had a brief conversation with reporters in the room, but their discussions could not be heard. Yayi had reportedly met Mahama earlier in the day.
When the gates opened for Yayi's convoy to enter Akufo-Addo's compound, dozens of supporters from the street streamed through, with some approaching his front door to shout encouragement at their party's leader.
According to the electoral commission, Mahama won the election held over Friday and Saturday with 50.70 percent of the votes cast, compared to Akufo-Addo's 47.74 percent.
The stakes were especially high in the West African country with a booming economy fuelled in part by a new and expanding oil industry.
Addressing a celebratory crowd of supporters in the central Accra on Monday, Mahama sought to move the country past the "hard fought campaign".
"I wish to welcome my fellow candidates to join me now as partners in … creating a better Ghana," he said, after previously calling on his rivals to respect "the voice of the people".
Observers from the Commonwealth, West African bloc ECOWAS and local group CODEO all said the vote appeared peaceful and transparent.
On Monday, CODEO, which deployed observers throughout the country, said it had confidence in the official results, calling them "generally an accurate reflection of how Ghanaians voted in the December 7 polls".
"CODEO advises all the presidential election contestants and their supporters as well as the general public to place confidence in the electoral commission's official presidential election results," it said.
The opposition however issued a scathing statement even before the official results were announced.
"Indeed, we have enough concrete evidence to show that the 2012 presidential election was won by our candidate, Nana Akufo-Addo," it said, alleging a "pattern of fraud".
In the wake of the opposition claims and before the results were announced Sunday, a crowd of about 300 NPP supporters had gathered near the electoral commission. Security forces fired tear gas at one point in an apparent bid to move them back.
The 54-year-old Mahama, previously vice president, has only been head of state since July, following the death of his predecessor John Atta Mills.
Ghana's presidential and parliamentary polls were held on Friday, but polling stations in some areas re-opened on Saturday after problems with a new biometric system and late delivery of materials led to delays.
Elections since the return to civilian rule in 1992 have seen both parties voted out of office, establishing Ghana's democratic credentials in a region that has had its share of rigged polls and coups.
All six of Ghana’s elections have been presided over by current electoral commission boss Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, who is widely expected to step down soon.
Ghana is also a top exporter of cocoa and gold, with economic growth of 14 percent in 2011. Eight percent growth is expected this year and next in the country of some 24 million people.