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Africa

Ghana ushers in John Mahama as new leader

John Dramani Mahama was on Monday (07.01.2012) sworn in as Ghana’s president at a ceremony in the capital Accra. However the country’s main opposition boycotted the event and is challenging the results in court.

Amidst reverberating drumming, singing and chanting by thousands of Ghanaians, John Dramani Mahama was made Ghana's next president at a colorful ceremony.

Mahama was sworn in by the country's chief justice together with his deputy Paa Kwesi Amissah Arthur after the pair won last year's December 7 elections.

The inauguration was graced by 13 African heads of state including South Africa's Jacob Zama, Nigeria's Goodluck Jonathan and Liberia's Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Other delegations from across the world were also present.

'Count on you'

In his acceptance speech, President Mahama called on Ghanaians to be patient with him. “The promises that I have made are promises that I intend to keep. But my fellow citizens, change does not happen overnight. I will be counting on you to maintain the faith and the trust that you have placed in me as president and I promise I will not let you down.”

Kwesi Jonah, a political analyst at the University of Ghana, told DW, the newly inaugurated president had failed to take the opportunity to clearly outline how he intends to deal with the outside world.

“What is his foreign policy, for example on terrorism within the sub region, the Islamists, don't forget that pirates have started operating in the gulf of Guinea.” According to Jonah that was precisely one of the reasons why many delegates had come from outside.

"They wanted to know is he (Mahama) going to chart a completely different direction or is he going to continue with past policies,” Jonah added.

Defiant opposition

Members of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) boycotted the ceremony.

Supporter of presidential candidate Nana Akufo-Addo of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) protest at the electoral commission as anti-riot policemen keep guard. REUTERS/Luc Gnago (GHANA - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)

Ghana's opposition has held several demonstrations

The party's vice chairman, Fred Oware, told the media ahead of the swearing in ceremony that the party had the right to boycott the ceremony and challenge the election results.

“You get the impression that going to court is some act that should not be entertained. But how else does the constitution prescribe this except to go to court?” Oware asked.

“We believe in the rule of law and therefore we will submit ourselves to the provisions and dictates of the constitution and do what we are doing,” the opposition member said.

Daniela Kuzu, resident director at the Friedrich Erbert Foundation, a German think tank in Accra, told DW in a telephone interview she does not expect the NPP petition to go far.

"In my personal opinion they can't win, because all their representatives in the polling stations have signed that all the election papers have been right," Kuzu said. In her opinion, the NPP will now find it hard to give certain evidence that the election results were not right, since Ghana's electoral commission maintains that the results were free and fair.

While Ghanaians are eager to hear how the Supreme Court will rule on the NPP's petition on election irregularities, many are also looking forward to the formation of a new government.

One of them attending the inauguration ceremony told DW he had a lot of confidence in the new president, since Mahama had been deputy president of John Atta Mills for four years.

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