Ghana's Ruling Party Pulls Out of Special Election After Failing to Restrain Electoral Commission
Friday's special election in Tain Constituency, Ghana's Brong Ahafo region is expected to determine which of the two presidential candidates would succeed outgoing President John Kufuor. This comes after the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) failed in its bid to legally restrain the electoral commission from declaring the winner of Friday's special election and subsequently the next president of Ghana. The NPP also served notice to the electoral commission that it would not be participating in the Tain Constituency election, citing security concerns, which it claimed would significantly undermine the transparency of the election. But the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is encouraging its partisans to come out and vote. Bernard Morna is a leading member of the opposition People's National Convention, which stayed neutral during the December 28 run-off election. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that by citing security concerns, the ruling NPP was acting irresponsible.
"I can tell you that the security acted so professional to my amazement that all of us were asked to come down from our vehicles, including the former President (Jerry Rawlings). The vehicles were searched thoroughly and we were personally searched so as to ensure that nobody went into Tain with any weaponry or with ballot papers," Morna noted.
He said there were incidents, which indicated voter irregularities, but that those were professionally dealt with by the security agents there.
"Indeed at the point of our entry (into Tain), we saw the former general secretary of the NPP whose car was searched and at that point we noticed that thumb printed ballot papers for Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufu-Addo the NPP flag bearer were found and they were taken out. And we are also informed that when the current president got to Wenchi (in the Brong Ahafo region), the Wenchi chief told him that the people of Tain were going to vote overwhelmingly for the NDC. And so the president should go back to Accra to prepare to hand over power to an NDC elected president. So, I am also encouraged by the professional manner the security agents are conducting themselves," he said.
Morna described as irresponsible claims by NPP partisans of security intimidation.
"I hold that to be a very preposterous and strange position coming from a party and a government. The ruling party that controls the security of this nation turns around to say the security if the nation is bad then that should be the reason for which the people should vote them out because they have shown gross incompetence and gross incapability of managing the security of the nation that you can't even assure the people of Ghana that the security of something they can rely on," Morna pointed out.
He said it was unfortunate that the ruling party was complaining about the security situation when it is in total control of the country's security apparatus.
"Let us not forget that the president is the head of the National Security Council and the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces. The vice president is the chairman of the Police Head Council and so in spite of all these they are telling us that the security of the nation is bad tells of the gross incompetence and incapability of this government. And that is the more reason why they should be voted out quickly," he said.
Morna said the situation in the Tain Constituency is calm ahead of Friday's election contrary to claims by the ruling party.
"It couldn't have been for security reasons that they (NPP) went to court. It wasn't for security reasons that Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufu-Addo did a press conference to assure the people that they were going to hold a campaign and that he was going to come. So, clearly the constituency is very safe. They can only spew out these because they know that on the ground they are not popular and that the wind of change that is coming will sweep them away," Morna noted.
He described as unfortunate the cloud of instability the ruling party was trying to portray in the Tain constituency.
"So at the end of the day they can only come and create perception, especially to the rest of the world that something bad was happening. We have all campaigned in this country and they contain the security of this country and at no point in time did we complain about security difficulties. Is it because they are meeting their waterloo today that they are claiming that security is not good for them? I still insist that if it is security that they are complaining about then it indicates that this government is highly incompetent to manage the affairs of this nation," he said.
The electoral commission rescheduled Fridaay's election after it citied difficulties in getting election materials to the constituency in the December 28 election run-off.
Friday's election is between Nana Akufu-Addo of the ruling NPP and Professor John Atta-Mills of the main opposition NDC. This comes after no candidate garner the over 50 percent minimum votes required to win the December seventh general election. Meanwhile the opposition NDC is ahead after the election run-off with 50.13 percent, while the ruling party trails with 49.87 percent.
The spokesman for the ruling NPP, Arthur Kennedy said Thursday the situation in the western district of Tain was not conducive to hold a fair vote. He claimed partisans of the NPP were being intimidated. However there was no indication from the electoral commission whether it was going to stop Friday's vote because of the NPP claims.
Some political analysts say it would be difficult for the ruling party to win Friday's election in Tain's constituency because the opposition won the constituency by over 50 percent of the votes.
Meanwhile, some Ghanaians are calling on the presidential candidate of the ruling NPP to concede defeat. This was further echoed by the only independent presidential candidate at the December seven general election. Kwesi Amoafo Yeboah has called on Nana Akufo-Addo to concede defeat in the interest of peace. He urged the NPP to be gracious in defeat adding that the majority of Ghanaians have shown that they prefer to have the presidential candidate of the main opposition NDC Professor John Atta-Mills Mills as their next president.
By Peter Clottey
02 January 2009