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19.03.2009 Politics

Afari-Gyan fingers police

By The Statesman

Kwadwo Afari Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission, has confirmed what many patriots have over the years perceived a section of the Ghana Police to be guilty of, particularly during elections. 

Blowing a whistle on some of the acts of negligence committed by some of them, he accused them favouring some influential individuals in the society, including government officials and politicians in the course of their duty.

According to him, the Police in the last December general elections failed to act on reported cases of criminal acts by some supporters of political parties, to the surprise of the EC officials.

These include snatching of the ballot boxes at polling stations during voting, attacks on perceived political opponents, threats on the lives of EC officials at polling centres, scuffles among other acts of criminality.

Dr Afari-Gyan made the observation on Tuesday when he delivered the 5th Kronti ne Akwamu lecture on the topic, 'The Challenges to Conducting Free and Fair Elections in Emerging African Democracies; The Case of Ghana', at the British Council in Accra.

He cited instances where government appointees particularly District Chief Executives and Regional Ministers have had to give directives to the police personnel to act upon; and decried why the situation has persisted for a long time.

The convention is that the District Police Commander and the Regional Police Commander are under the DCE and the Regional Minister, respectively, he lamented.

The EC boss was of the view that the Ghana Police has a structural problem and, until that is resolved by reforming the Service, personnel of the Service would continue to suffer headaches of interference in the course of their duty on the part of politicians and some powerful individuals in the society.

Admonishing the Service, Dr Afari-Gyan said the Police ought to see themselves as a national institution tasked with serving as professionals, without yielding to undue political influence or interference.

He mentioned internal and external challenges which militate against or otherwise the workings of Electoral Commissions across African countries, citing a lack of an enduring legal framework, technical know-how, funding, registration of voters, the media, civil society organizations, security, judiciary etc.

He indicated, however, that the country's EC has surmounted quite a chunk of these challenges, but according to Dr Afari-Gyan, funding from the government to carry out its lawful activities has on few occasions been delayed by official red-tape attitude.

He disclosed that the success story of the Ghana's EC was hinged on the fact that the members of the Commission have always sought to reach consensus on vital issues and decisions.

The EC boss reiterated the Commission's commitment to continue to provide some degree of funding for political parties to ensure a level playing field for all stakeholders.