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Thu,23Nov2017

Nana Akuffo Addo

The grace period is over

Around-the-clock sermons about brotherly love and religious music blared from radio and television sets in the week leading up to the Supreme Court's verdict on Ghana's presidential election petition.

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Who watches Ghana's election watchmen?

All roads led to polling centres on Friday as Ghanaians voted to elect a new president and parliament. This year, and for the first time, the country's electoral commission (EC) introduced biometric voting registration in a move to reduce irregularities and multiple voting.

Queues began forming at some polling stations as early as 1am, as voters made the attempt to avoid a long wait. But the lack of voting materials at some stations, before the polls were due to open at 7am, meant that delays were inevitable. It was 11am before people at the head of the queue were able to cast their vote.

On the most part the machines seemed to be doing their job. An electoral observer in Osu, Accra said that one voter arrived at the polling station and attempted to vote having already cast one at another station. The machine detected this and the man was promptly arrested. This was just one of several cases reported.

The day before the election, Charles Kojo Vandyck of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) expressed his misgivings about the biometric system saying it will confuse people. "It is their first time using it and some people will feel unsure as to whether their vote is truly being counted or not."

People had reason to be concerned. Machines in two polling stations in the Ablekuma South constituency in Accra broke down and reports of others across the country led to a backlog of people waiting to vote. "People have just come home, they can't stand here waiting to see what will happen," said one voter in that constituency's Chokor district.

Reports that some EC officials were allowing people to vote in places where the machines had malfunctioned will not fill voters and observers with much confidence.

Throughout the campaign period the EC was accused of not being impartial. But on Wednesday when a special poll was opened for security services to vote, many found that their names were not on the register.

But whilst NPP members and supporters saw this as a move to reduce the number of Akan voters, EC official Emmanuel Kissi Asante explained to me that the names were missing because registration forms had not been filled out correctly.

Another problem was that voting had to take place at the same place as registration. Many people complained that this was not made clear and some voters were not given this information at all.

As counting begins across the country pressure is on the commission's head, Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, to ensure the peaceful and smooth-running elections that Ghana is hailed across the continent for.

 

Democracy brewed in an African pot

As Ghanaians prepare to go to the polls, the whole country is awash with political party paraphernalia underscoring a grassroots appreciation of political pluralism.

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President Mahama Charmed Me too

President Mahama did his admirers and certainly my very difficult-to-please self great good as he appeared presidential in his delivery. He could win unsuspecting and undecided hearts too. He did well to rehearse and pour out his 4--point vision.

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