Catholic bishops in Ghana have appealed to the nation to show maturity in accepting the results of the just concluded election in which incumbent President Nana Akufo-Addo won but his challenger refused to concede defeat.
More than 17 million people voted on Dec. 7 to elect their president and 300-seat parliament in the Christian-majority nation, seen as the most democratic country in the entire strife-torn African continent.
Following the disputed results, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Ghana appealed for peace, calling on "all stakeholders to exhibit maturity in accepting both defeat and victory."
"In this way, reactions to any of the two conditions would be measured, modest and charitable towards one another," Archbishop Philip Naameh of Tamale said in a Dec. 16 statement issued on behalf of the conference.
Some 70 percent of Ghana's people are Christians, with Catholics forming only around 13 percent of the population. Most Christians are Protestants and evangelical groups.
Ghana has followed democracy since 1992 and held its eighth presidential polls and election to its 300-seat parliament.
Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) bagged 51.3 percent of the vote share and edged out John Dramani Mahama of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), who vowed to contest the results.
According to the National Election Security Taskforce, police registered 60 election-related violence cases from Dec. 7-9. Five instances involving firearms resulted in the death of one person each, it said.
The bishops wanted Ghana's Election Commission to engage all political parties" to ensure that outstanding issues and grievances are dealt with, keeping the country's interest intact.
They urged security agencies to be "very professional in the exercise of their duties" to protect life and properties.
The European Union Election Observation Mission, which monitored the poll, in a Dec. 9 report said the elections were transparent and free, but there were problems with the process.
"The secrecy of the vote was not always ensured, mainly due to the poor layout of polling stations," the report said.
Export of cocoa and gold drive the Ghanian economy. It is the world's second-largest cocoa supplier after the Ivory Coast and the seventh-largest gold producer.
Akufo-Addo has distanced his establishment from Western aid while remaining open to investment from China.
Akufo-Addo and Mahama signed a peace deal before the polls on Dec. 4 and both leaders swore by a commitment to non-violence.
The president had urged Christians to pray during a Dec. 6 church service for peaceful elections.
Just before the polls, in an Advent pastoral letter, bishops had appealed for peace.
"We also appeal to all political parties, their leaders and supporters, and indeed all Ghanaian citizens, to live in peace and refrain from all activities that can disturb the peace of our dear nation before, during and after the elections," they said in the Nov. 29 letter.