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05.11.2008 General News

Six Firms To Print Ballot Papers

Six Firms To Print Ballot Papers

Six local printing houses have been given the contract to print the ballot papers for the December 7 general election and release them to the Electoral Commission (EC) this week.

The Director of Elections at the EC, Mr Albert Kofi Arhin, announcing this when he addressed security chiefs within the southern command, named the six companies, which are all Accra-based, as the Buck Press, Innolink, Yarsarko, Fonstad, Act Commercial and Check Point.

The day-long meeting was to enable the security chiefs to appraise themselves of the electoral processes, engage in test operations for communication and mobility and plan joint practical exercises against any security challenges that the elections might pose.

Present at the meeting were the Inspector-General of Police, Mr P. K. Acheampong, the Chief of the Defence Staff, Lt. Gen. J. B. Danquah, and the Director of the Ghana Immigration Service, Ms Elizabeth Adjei.

Mr Arhin said the EC would require a 24-hour guard during the printing of the ballot papers and added that it would, therefore, need the support of the security agencies during the printing of the papers.

He noted that the EC had often borne the brunt of elections as its staff were often intimidated and beaten up.

Mr Arhin said the commission appreciated the role of the security services in the success of the elections.

According to him, after the printing of the ballot papers, the EC will still need security assistance to escort the papers and other election materials to the regions on the eve of the elections for the allocation and distribution of the materials to the polling stations.

Mr Arhin said other areas the EC needed security presence and protection were the counting of votes, the carting of ballot boxes to the collation centres, the Operations Room of the EC, the premises of the EC itself, as well as the places where electronic scoreboards would be mounted throughout the country.

He explained that the stakes in this year's elections were high but gave the assurance that the EC would do what it could to ensure peaceful elections and urged the security agencies to support it with the requisite security.

Mr Arhin told the security chiefs that the presiding officers would be in charge of the elections at the various centres and urged them to co-operate with the officers.

He said the EC was aware that the security personnel could not cover the entire length and breadth of the country and had, therefore, issued out the list of flash points to the security chiefs.

The National Security Co-ordinator, Dr Sam Amoo-Ghartey, said the commitment of the country's security system to ensure a secure and peaceful environment for free and fair elections was on course.

“This joint police/military exercise constitutes a vital part of the preparations of the election task force to ensure a congenial and secure environment for the forthcoming elections,” he said.

He said the National Task Force had been decentralised and replicated in all the 10 regions and the 170 metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies, with non-political appointees as chairpersons.

He said the goal of the joint exercise in the internal security areas of operations was to synchronise and rehearse operational plans and procedures.

Dr Amoo-Ghartey expressed the hope that by the end of the exercise the roles and functions of all agencies involved would have been synchronised and integrated into a seamless operation machine to achieve the ultimate goal of ensuring a secure and enabling environment for a free, fair and transparent electoral process.

“Lest we forget, we are a people who have gone through a lot in our young history: We have been freed, we have been liberated, redeemed, revolutionised and eventually we have achieved democratic dispensation. This, we are sure, we are all determined to keep,” he said.

The General Officer Commanding the Southern Command of the Ghana Armed Forces, Brigadier-General Emmanuel Okyere, announced a nation-wide simulation exercise on November 16, 2008 to test the preparedness of the security services for the December 7 polls.

He said journalists would be embedded in the exercise to erase any doubts about it.

Story by Albert K. Salia & Michael Donkor