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19.12.2008 Elections

Akwatia Political Crisis Takes Different Turn

By Daily Graphic
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The problem that arose in the Akwatia Constituency during the December 7  parliamentary election seems to rage on since the two main contending candidates have taken different positions on the issue of the re-run in six polling stations where ballot boxes were destroyed.

While the New Patriotic Party (NPP) parliamentary candidate, Dr Kofi Asare, said he accepted the decision by the Electoral Commission (EC) although he would have wished that the contents of the remaining ballot boxes already counted would be used to determine a winner, the candidate for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Baba Mohammed Ahmed Jamal, insisted that there should be a re-run in the whole constituency.

In a telephone interview with Dr Asare, he said since the EC was the final authority on the election, he had no option but to accept the commission's decision and prepare for the  re-run scheduled for December 28.

He said it was unfortunate that some people decided to take the law into their own hands and misbehave during the day of election, which created problems for everybody in the constituency and expressed the hope that at the end of the day, the right choice of the people would emerge.

 At the time of the interview, Dr Asare said he was meeting with the executive members in the constituency to discuss how best they could strategise to win more votes in the six constituencies.

Baba Jamal, however, said he would not accept anything short of a complete re-run throughout the constituency.

He explained that he had already sent a petition to the EC together with the other three candidates in the competition, adding that with the hard evidence presented to the commission, he was sure the EC would rescind its decision and conduct fresh election at all the 89 polling stations in the constituency.

Giving reasons for not accepting the EC's decision, Baba Jamal said there were series of irregularities in some polling stations, which could not be accepted and named some of the results declared at Wenchi, Apinaman and Dwenase polling stations as being more than 100 per cent.

He said his party agents were prevented from monitoring the process in those areas and, therefore, did not append their signatures to the results that were declared. He added that he had to go to those areas under tight military protection on election day.

When he was questioned on his next line of action if the EC decided not to change its decision, Baba Jamal said the EC would accept his proposal after it had looked at his petition and the issues raised but was quick to add that if the worse came, his party would seek legal intervention.

On Tuesday, December 16, 2008, the Daily Graphic reported that voting would take place at six polling stations in the Akwatia Constituency where ballot boxes were said to have been tampered with during the December 7, 2008 general election to determine the winner of the parliamentary race.

The seat for the constituency is being keenly contested by Dr Kofi Asare of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Baba Mohammed Ahmed Jamal of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), who is also his party's Deputy General Secretary.

The Akwatia re-run will be on December 28, 2008, alongside the presidential run-off, and the ballots cast will be added to those already counted for the declaration of the full results.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic, the Chairman of the EC, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, said the decision to re-run the election at the six polling stations at Akwatia was arrived at after painstaking investigations by the EC.

At dusk on December 7, 2008 when results were being collated at Akwatia, supporters of the NPP and the NDC were said to have nearly clashed, compelling electoral officers and security personnel to convey the electoral materials and ballot boxes to the electoral office at Kade for collation.

Counting started at 7 a.m. the next day and ended at 3.10 p.m., according to the EC's electoral officer, but the ballots in six boxes were not collated.

Two of the six ballot boxes were destroyed around 3.30 p.m. while voting was going on. Four other boxes, along with the electoral materials, were whisked away by the machomen.

As a result of the development, the vote counting was limited to the remaining ballot boxes.   

Story by Lucy Adoma Yeboah

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