NewsWest AfricaGhana: Observers seek correction of anomalies ahead of presidential polls


Posted on Tuesday, 08 September 2015 11:15

Ghana: Observers seek correction of anomalies ahead of presidential polls

By Dasmani Laary in Accra

Photo©ReutersA coalition of domestic election observers has called for tighter regulations ahead of Ghana's general polls in 2016 to avert polling irregularity following anomalies that marked local assemblies' elections on September 1.

There were reports of protests and demonstrations which triggered low voter turnout, malfunctioning biometric verification devices, missing names in voter register and disruption of voting and counting process triggered by gangs invading some polling centres across the country.

There is need to do a holistic assessment to find out the reasons for the low patronage and advance solutions to the problem

"At Nyamekye electoral area in the eastern region, voting was disrupted because a group of demonstrators demanded that government fulfils promises made to them during the 2012 elections," the coalition's co-chair, Miranda Greenstreet told journalists on Monday.

"[Our] observers reported seeing thugs invading some polling centres with the aim of either preventing voters from casting their ballots or snatching ballot boxes."

The coalition urged Ghana's elections regulatory body to rectify the anomalies and critically examine its performance to avoid similar occurrences in 2016 presidential and parliamentary polls.

Political pundits have described next year's elections as crucial and a turning point in the West African country's democracy, as incumbent John Dramani Mahama is seeking re-election amidst deepening power crisis and an economic slow-down.

As Ghana moves towards election year and the political heat rising, Greenstreet said actions of the Electoral Commission called for re-examination since the district level elections recorded low-voter turnout and registered pockets of incidence.

"[We] entreat the electoral commission to review its performance on Election Day, and take a critical look at the few challenges recorded during polling.

"Particularly those relating to arrival of polling officials, setting up of polls and the malfunctioning of biometric devices, to prevent similar occurrences in the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections," she said.

Greenstreet, however, said in spite of low voter-out and "minor incidents" noticed in the observed districts, the conduct of the elections was consistent with the country's electoral laws and that arrangements were adequate.

The consistent apathy shown in the district level elections has being of grave concern to many, a development they say has implications for grassroots participation and inclusive development and called for all-inclusive actions to rekindle voter interest.

Domestic election watchers believe that the current system for the local assemblies' elections was not working well and the country did not seem to be reaping full benefits of the huge resources pumped into it.

"There is need to do a holistic assessment to find out the reasons for the low patronage and advance solutions to the problem," she the coalition said.

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