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05.03.2008 General News

IT'S BULL•EC Fires NDC

By Daily Guide
IT'S BULL•EC Fires NDC
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The Electoral Commissioner, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan has described as bogus, a document in possession of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) alleging that the voters' register was bloated.

At an Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting in Accra yesterday where the leader of United Renaissance Party (URP), Charles Kofi Wayo walked out, the EC boss said the NDC figures did not emanate from the commission, wondering where the main opposition party got the document from.

The NDC had claimed that a CD Rom containing the disputed figures was obtained from the EC, but the party was unable to produce it when asked to do so. Even though the voters' register comes with pictures, the NDC's document did not have pictures, raising questions about its source.

The main opposition party's plot was said to be tailored to discredit the December general elections ahead of time in order to plunge the country into a 'Ukrainian style' scenario.

At the IPAC meeting, representatives of NDC stunned participants when they failed to produce the highly-trumpeted CD Rom that allegedly contained the bloated voters' list prepared to rig the elections.

Instead, the party's General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu-Nketia continued to argue that the material in their possession was more credible, since it was on a CD Rom rather than the 'mere figures on paper' that the Electoral Commission (EC) provided.

This prompted the Electoral Commissioner, Kwadwo Afari-Gyan to throw a challenge to the complaining party to disclose where it got its false figures from.

Tearing the party's arguments to shreds, Dr Afari-Gyan said even though he had not seen the controversial CD Rom, its contents, as announced by the NDC, were simply false.

He revealed that the percentage change in the entire 39 constituencies of the Ashanti Region between 2004 and 2006 ranged from 3.5 percent in Odotobri to 10.7 percent in Ejura-Sekyeredumase, which incidentally was held by the NDC.

The Commissioner said it was never true that certain constituencies in the region recorded 120 percent increase in 2006 over the 2004 figures, saying the only way to give any credibility to the allegation was to produce the alleged CD Rom.

He said the party had failed to make any formal complaint to his office, but announced that the commission took it upon itself to investigate the claims because the figures quoted were too astronomical.

“We don't conduct elections in this country based on information on a CD ROM. We use a database,” he told a group of journalists after the meeting.

Dr. Afari-Gyan said following the screaming allegations of the NDC's presidential candidate, Professor John Evans Atta Mills, in Cape Coast over the weekend, the commission tasked both the Ashanti Regional Office in Kumasi and the IT Centre at the EC headquarters in Accra to provide whatever information they had.

“The result was at variance with what was being bandied about in the media and other places, so the fact of the matter is that those figures are not correct,” the commissioner stressed.

He said yesterday's IPAC meeting was not dictated by Professor Mills' wolf cry, adding that other issues discussed included the replacement of lost voter ID cards and a time-table for this year's general elections.

On the opening of voters' register, he said the exercise would be conducted between 8th and 17th May this year.

Asked if the reputation of the commission had been tarnished by the brouhaha, Dr. Afari-Gyan answered in the negative and wondered why out of the 230 constituencies across the country, only 13, all in one region, were bloated.

He gave the assurance that an internal investigation would be conducted into the source of the information.

It would be recalled that the NDC flagbearer churned out some documents over the weekend, claiming that some constituencies in the Ashanti Region recorded as high as 113 percent increase over 2004.

The document cited Ejisu-Juaben as recording 112.2 percent increase from 73,039 to 155,042 registered voters, Asante Akim North, 113.9 percent, Ejura-Sekyeredumase, 120.9 percent and ten other constituencies.

Kwadwo Sarfo-Kantanka, Deputy Commissioner In-Charge of Operations, appealed to political parties to cross-check their facts with the commission since, according to him, issues of this nature could not be resolved on radio.

Reacting to the claims, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) National Chairman, Peter Mac Manu called on the NDC to desist from demonizing the EC simply because it was power-hungry.

Describing the EC figures as genuine, the NPP chairman observed that the NDC had, since last year, hatched a plan to find faults with the EC in order to discredit the outcome of the December polls, should it lose.

He appealed to the leadership of all political parties to think first of the nation and stop poisoning the political atmosphere with false information.

Another NPP participant at the IPAC meeting, Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, said the NDC had resorted to its current tactics because defeat was staring the party in the face.

He said under normal circumstances, the EC provides information to all parties at the same time, and wondered how the NDC alone got this one.

“Prof. Mills is up to some mischief. In Boston last year, he said the NPP could not win any future election in this country without rigging, and threatened to reject the result. When that did not work, he moved to ROPAL, and Kenya. Today, he is screaming over voters' register,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, the founder of the United Renaissance Party (URP), Kofi Wayo, stayed out of the IPAC meeting because, he said, he would not meet eyeball-to-eyeball with representatives of donor partners present at the meeting.

By Bennett Akuaku

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