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28.10.2008 Politics

'Elections are won or lost at polling centre'

By The Statesman

The Director of Elections at the EC, Albert Kofi Arhin has reiterated that an election is either won or lost right at the polling station where the ballot papers are counted, documented and signed by representatives of the various political parties, and not at the office of the EC.

"We only collate results from the centres,' Mr Arhin contended at a two day workshop organised in Koforidua by the EC for media personnel drawn from a number of media houses.

It was under the theme - 'Responsible Reportage, Key to Credible and Peaceful Elections.'

Speaking on preparations towards the 2008 general elections, Mr Arhin said the system used to conduct elections in Ghana is one of the best in Africa, a fact attested to by election observers all over the world.

 He therefore urged all the parties in this year's election to appoint people with integrity to represent them at the polling stations.

Mr Arhin stated that an election can be rigged only if party agents agree at a centre to help a particular party cheat, 'otherwise, I don"t see how we at the EC can rig an election in favour of a particular political party.'

The Director of Elections disclosed that all Presiding Officer would be made to account for every single ballot paper issued him/her; any officer who fails to render credible accounts of his/her stewardship would be made to face the law, because 'an accountant who cannot balance his/her account, cannot close and go home.'

David A Kangah, Deputy Chairman of the Electoral Commission in charge of Finance and Administration assured that the EC is determined to ensure a free, fair and credible election in December.

'We don't have to use arms to become leaders in the country. Power is vested in the people of Ghana and when political parties say the elections cannot be free and fair, they should bear in mind that such statements do not represent the views of all Ghanaians who in point of fact hold the power.

People say a lot of things and go scot free,' he decried.

He said the EC was set up to seek the interest of the people of Ghana and not a section of the people.

Mr Kanga said if the EC goes to the government for money for logistics, that does not mean that the EC is 'in bed' with government, adding 'if we had adequate logistics, we would not be 'cracking' our brains to plan for the election.'

He took the media through the functions of the Seven Member Commission who form the EC and advised the media to stop referring to the chairman of the EC as 'Electoral Commissioner.'

Amadu Sulley, Director of EC in charge of Research and Monitoring disclosed that names of some minors aged between two and four had their names and photographs captured as registered voters, describing it as criminal.

He blamed Ghanaians in general for the problem, saying the show of apathy on the part of the citizenry in helping the EC clean the voter's register during the exhibition exercise did not make the situation any better.

Paul Boateng, Eastern Regional Director of the EC said the media has an obligation to engender good faith toward the electoral system.

 He implored journalists to truly serve as a 'reliable conveyor belt of electoral and political information.'