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21.10.2008 General News

Security Men Don't Count Ballots

By Francis Asamoah-Tufuor -

SECURITY personnel are not to take part in the counting of ballot papers nor in the actual conduct of the December 7 general election, a brochure on security  guidelines for the poll has directed.

The move is to ensure that security personnel who would be assigned to polling centres  exhibit neutrality, fairness and professionalism in the discharge of their duties.

The Director of  Police Public Affairs DSP Samuel Kwesi Ofori, who spoke to the Times yesterday about the brochure said security agencies were enjoined to provide total security at all polling centres without harassment to anyone. 

They are to  carry out  lawful instructions of the presiding or returning officers of the Electoral Commission.

The brochure, among other things, outlines the dos and don'ts for security personnel at the poll.

In line with this, he said, a National Election Security Task Force, made up of all the security services, has been formed to coordinate security activities at all electoral areas.

The task force is made up of the Police Service, the Armed Forces, National Security, the Bureau of National Investigations, Fire Service, the Ghana Immigration Service, and the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service.

Under the guidelines, Mr Ofori said security personnel had the responsibility of ensuring the safety and security of all election materials by guarding and escorting them and enforce measures put in place to prevent violence before, during and after the elections.

He  gave the assurance that the security agencies were firmly on the ground o ensure that the election was conducted in a safe  atmosphere and appealed to the various political parties, traditional rulers and community opinion leaders to educate their followers and people to respect the electoral laws so that they would not fall foul of them.

He also warned 'machomen' who intended to move from one polling  station  to the other to disrupt the election to refrain from such acts because they would not be tolerated on  election day.

He said while the security agencies would do their  best to ensure free election, all the other stakeholders like the political parties, the National Commission for Civic Education, the Electoral Commission, civil society organizations, and the general citizenry should also  discharge  their duties effectively towards the realisatioin of that objective.