* Opposition says election results manipulated
* Country seen as pillar of democracy in troubled region
* President says he expects Ghanaians to remain calm
(Adds Akufo-Addo comments)
By Kwasi Kpodo and Richard Valdmanis
ACCRA, Dec 11 Ghana's main opposition party said
on Tuesday it would challenge in court the result of last week's
election, which gave victory to incumbent president John Dramani
Mahama with 50.7 percent of the vote.
New Patriotic Party leader Nana Akufo-Addo, who lost to
Mahama in the poll, said electoral workers had tampered with the
result of the Dec. 7 vote - which was widely seen as a test for
democracy in one of Africa's most stable nations.
"We are taking our matter to the place where the
constitution says we should take our matter," Akufo-Addo told
thousands of supporters in the same field in the capital Accra
where Mahama held his victory party the previous day.
"We are going to put ourselves in the hands of the judges of
the Supreme Court and they will decide the fate of this
The United States and regional leaders have issued
statements congratulating Mahama on his victory and praising the
conduct of the election, which observers said was free and fair
despite some logistical glitches.
President Mahama, who took over from former leader John Atta
Mills after his death in July, said he was not worried by the
NPP's legal challenge and was confident supporters of the rival
political camps would remain calm.
"Ghana's democracy is solid, and there are constitutional
institutions to deal with situations like this," he told Reuters
in an interview at his residence in Accra.
Mahama, during his vistory speech on Monday, urged his
defeated rivals to drop any grievances and join him "as
partners" in making Ghana better.
The gold, oil and cocoa-producing nation has managed more
than 30 years of democratic transfers of power, making it an
anomaly in West Africa's so-called "coup belt".
But a contested election in 2008, in which Akufo-Addo lost
by less than 1 percent, pushed the country to the brink of
chaos, with disputes over results driving hundreds of people
into the streets with clubs and machetes.
(Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Writing by Bate Felix; Editing by
Joe Bavier and Andrew Roche)