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21.07.2008 Politics

EC can't rig polls -- Afari-Gyan

By myjoyonline
EC can't rig polls --  Afari-Gyan
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The Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, has noted that the credibility of the December presidential and parliamentary elections will not be determined by the commission alone but also on how all the stakeholders tackle their shared responsibility.

He said that responsibility was shared by the EC, the ruling government, the political parties, the security agencies, the media, the electorate and the entire civil society.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic over the weekend, Dr Afari-Gyan said the elections would cost the country GH¢42 million but cautioned that the money alone was not enough to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections.

Though the details of the budget were not readily available, the EC boss pointed out and added that what would ensure free, fair and peaceful elections were the collective resolve to obey the rules and the vigilance of all stakeholders.

"I can assure you that we at the commission will play our role, but we need the complementary effort of all to ensure free and fair elections because it is a collective responsibility," he said, adding that if we did not do that "we will fall short of what are genuinely free and fair elections".

On the possible causes of disputed elections, Dr Afari-Gyan listed abuse of incumbency, multiple registration and voting, intimidation and several other forms of electoral malpractices and asked, "Is it the commission or the parties which ask their supporters to attempt any such malpractice?"

He said, for instance, that it was important that the ruling government did not abuse its incumbency by using state resources to support any candidate, while all concerned should resolve to play by the rules.

He said the political parties and their candidates must adhere to their parties' laws and code of conduct and respect one another.

Ordinary citizens too, Dr Afari-Gyan said, had roles to play, stressing that a lot of infractions of the law were committed by the people and "we must guard against that".

"We are all expected to register only once and vote only once and if all of us are prepared to play our roles, we will have very successful elections," he added.

He said the security agencies must also play their roles effectively and possibly adopt a zero tolerance for violence.

"It has been done elsewhere and I can't see any reason it cannot be done in Ghana," he charged.

So far, he pointed out, the media had not been biased, saying that in his view there was equitable access to the media.

"I think we are going to have very good elections; the signs are there, as we are dealing with some electoral issues early," he confidently stated.

On the right collation of the results, Dr Afari-Gyan pointed out that the process began with the Returning Officer, explaining that the structure of the EC was such that before the results reached the EC Head Office, many people along the chain would have already seen them.

He said members of the commission were the last to see the results, since they would be known at the polling stations, in the constituencies, districts and regions before they got to the commission at the national level.

“Therefore, if any member of the commission tells you that he can rig an election for you, tell him he is a liar,” he stressed.

"If you have to worry about manipulation and rigging, then you must be worried over what happens at the polling station and at the level of the Presiding Officer because that is where results originate. By the way, if you also want to influence presiding officers, then there are 22,000 of them throughout the country," he stated.

Dr Afari-Gyan, however, gave the assurance that election results would be collated and announced timeously because the EC was operating a system which was very verifiable, saying, "We can determine at every stage what is happening.

“The fact that we did it at Pru and four other places to reconstruct the figures and announce the right winners and losers is proof of this."

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