November 23, 2015 / 7:29 AM / 4 years ago

Ghana's ruling party votes massively for Mahama's second term bid

ACCRA (Reuters) - Ghana’s ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) voted massively to affirm President John Mahama as its candidate for elections next year, setting the stage for a tight race between him and his main 2012 rival.

President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana addresses attendees during the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the U.N. headquarters in New York, September 30, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Many expect the 2016 contest to be tough for Mahama, whose administration is grappling with economic challenges and has signed a three-year aid deal with the International Monetary Fund to restore fiscal balance.

Mahama, who won 95.1 percent of the valid votes declared on Sunday, said the overwhelming renewal of his mandate had re-energized him to face the challenges and improve the livelihood of Ghanaians.

“It has been a challenging three years ... market fires that affected almost every region of our country; nationwide strike actions; serious challenges of the economy and most serious of all, power shortages that is still with us,” he told party supporters in the capital after the results were announced.

“I will continue to work hard. ... The path is not an easy one but we’re on the right track,” he said.

Ghana is considered a model of African democracy because of its peaceful elections, regular changes of power and respect for the rule of law. The West African state has also seen years of strong economic growth from its exports of gold, cocoa and oil.

But since 2013, the country has been grappling with high deficits, rising public debt and high inflation. The local cedi currency slumped 30 percent last year.

Mahama vowed to pursue prudent economic management to eradicate poverty and create jobs, adding that Ghanaians should have faith in his government.

Mahama, 56, was the sole presidential candidate in the election held in some 8,000 polling stations. Some 275 parliamentary candidates were also elected for the 2016 polls.

His 2016 rival, 71 year-old Nana Akufo-Addo, secured 96 percent of votes cast in the primary of the New Patriotic Party a year ago.

Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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