THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION MUST BE BLAMED FOR ACTS OF ELECTORAL VIOLENCE IN DECEMBER 2012 GENERAL ELECTIONS IN GHANA
7/11/2012 4:00:33 PM -
Elections are integral part of all democratic dispensations. Many countries work hard to get their electoral processes right and running. For this reason the conduct of free and fair elections cannot be compromised in the democratic forward match of Ghana. An election is said to be free and fair if it is completely devoid of irregularities such as intimidation, snatching of ballot boxes, violence, gerrymandering and all other forms of rigging and manipulation of the electoral commission, and if the results of the election reflect the choices or wishes of the voters.
COSA has observed that the potential for an outbreak of electoral violence is real in the December 2012 General Elections. The present state of national cohesion is not at all enviable, considering the extent to which the country is polarized over political leanings. COSA is aware of the deep divisions in the country and how media houses were worsening the situation by promoting insults and other forms of disagreeable behaviour among politicians over issues that only send the country closer to anarchy. The role of the Electoral Commission in ensuring free and fair elections cannot be underestimated or ignored. However, the actions and posturing of the Electoral Commission and its Chairman in recent times if not checked could be recipes for political violence.
If we recall, in 2008 at the time the Chairman of the Commission was declaring the election results he made a very serious statement that the Electoral Commission was not a court and therefore if political parties had any issues of electoral violence the Commission had no business with that. He went further to state that violence at polling stations have nothing to do with the Commission and for that matter the votes. This meant that what matters most to the Commission were the votes and not how the votes were obtained. This statement we believe has heightened the tension increased the stakes in this year's general elections.
Few months ago the Electoral Commission started the biometric registration process and the manner the process was handled left much to be desired. The registration was characterized with violence all because the Commission failed to carry out its mandate of effectively educating Ghanaians about the process. Yet, the Chairman of the Commission put the blame solely at the door steps of the political parties.
It is also a common knowledge how the commission is being manipulated to create gerrymandering in the creation of 45 new constituencies in less than six months to General elections. Whose interest is it going to serve to create 45 new constituencies? All political parties have held their primaries based on the existing 230 constituencies. It is less than 6 months to a general election, the biometric registration figures have not been finalized, and the EC is yet to put programmes in place to open the register for verification. Why should the EC be saddled with creation and demarcation of new constituencies? Have you considered the cost implications for the political parties in re-organizing primaries again and the legal implications it will bring? It is sheer creation of confusion if this is allowed to happen.
As if that is not enough, the Commission is bent on organizing two bye-elections in less than six months to general elections though the four major political parties in Ghana that is, New Patriotic Party, National Democratic Congress, Convention Peoples Party and Peoples National Convention have opposed the move citing national interest as the reason. Whose interests does the E.C seek to serve? If the E.C. sees the conduct of these particular bye-elections as performing its constitutional mandate irrespective of the cost implications, then it has no grounds for not implementing the Representation of the People's Amendment Act (ROPAA). As we speak the E.C is making arrangement for Ghanaian diplomats and students on government scholarships to vote in the December elections. How does the E.C. justify this move? Students on government scholarships do not fall under the category of Ghana foreign diplomats and so on what basis are such students going to vote and which political party is likely to benefit from that? Ghanaians are not fools.
It is worth remembering that during Election 2008, the country reached the verge of political anarchy, which could have been prevented because all the warning signals were clear but we ignored them. In the opinion of COSA, the warning signals of danger, as we approach Election 2012, are more disastrous than those of Election 2008. Therefore, there is the need for a robust and precise approach by all Ghanaians towards ensuring that an outbreak of political chaos was prevented with any legal and other means available. We must closely monitor the actions and inactions of the referee in this game, which is the Electoral Commission.
While it is heartwarming to note that a number of peace interventions were being made by civil society and some peace loving individuals and organizations, we should not at all become complacent with that, but remain focus in ensuring that the country remains unbendable, before, during and after the election.
The Electoral Commission is gradually throwing its hard earned credibility to the dogs and preparing the grounds for violence in this year's election. COSA associates itself with the 'All die be die' statement by Nana Addo-Danquah Akuffo Addo which is in sync with the National Pledge urging all Ghanaians to be bold and defend the good name of Ghana. We encourage all loving and good people of Ghana to be unwavering and should never allow Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan to retire with our beloved nation, Ghana.
God bless Ghana.