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30.04.2009 Crime & Punishment

Prosecute The 230 NDC, NPP Men!

By Francis Xah - newtimesonline.com
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THE Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, has disclosed that the Commission submitted to the police, for prosecution, 230 names of supporters of the NDC and NPP who engaged in double registration in the last elections.  However, he said, only one of them has been prosecuted.

He wondered why to date, only the NDC's Parliamentary candidate for Kwabre West Constituency, Pius Opoku Boateng, was tried and jailed for 12 months.

But when the acting  Inspector-General of Police, Mrs Elizabeth Mills Robertson was contacted on phone yesterday, she said she had no knowledge about the issue.

She however, promised to find out.
Dr Afari-Gyan was answering a question by John Larvie, Co-ordinator of Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) as to when what the EC did about the prosecution of only an NDC candidate for double registration even though an NPP activist also committed that same crime.

This was at a forum in Accra yesterday between the EC and the Domestic Election Observers to analyse what went wrong with the 2008 elections and steps all stakeholders should take to forestall their recurrence.

Dr Afari-Gyan said nothing prevented the police under the current NDC administration to get to have all those offenders, both NDC and NPP, prosecuted to serve as a deterrent to those who might want be contemplating multiple registration.

The EC chairman  also proposed that the name “special voting” for the security services should be changed to “Early Voting” because some security personnel, even without voting ID cards, thought they were so special that they should be allowed to vote that day.

He asked security men who were allowed to vote early to know that it was the same voting process but that they were only voting early to enable them to perform their duties on the actual voting date.

“There is nothing special about them which should make them swollen-headed,” he cautioned.

In an answer to another question, Dr Afari-Gyan said he had wanted to declare the results of the presidential re-run on December 28, but after three hours of deliberations between the NPP and NDC, the NPP asked that the Tain elections should be conducted to determine which party won the elections.

“NPP said there was a mathematical possibility of NPP winning; so let's go to Tain” he said.

The Commissioner said he was therefore surprised when NPP later turned round to say that it would not participate in the Tain elections, which went ahead, all the same.

Dr Afari-Gyan earlier in a welcome address, said after every major elections,  it was usual for stakeholders meet to deliberate on three items namely. What did we do so well, that there is no need for self introspection?

The second,  what did we not do well so we can correct it?  and what did we do so badly that, we need to find a completely new ways of doing it?

He said the duty of the EC was to listen to CODEO on their observations and discuss shortfalls because no electoral system was fool-proof.

Dr Afari-Gyan said as CODEO pointed out the short comings of the EC, it should also offer solutions that were candid, truthful, sincere and lawful.

Professor Miranda Greenstreet,  spokesperson for CODEO, said the organisation was made up of 34 civil society organisation including faith-based ones.

She said the ultimate objective of CODEO was to organise political campaigns to make citizens realise their rights as votes.

Prof. Greenstreet said CODEO had observed that there was a lot of political intolerance during the 2008 elections and that was threatening to polarise the country.

She said public office holders who wanted to do politics should have followed the rules, while the security agencies could have been more pro-active to punish people who broke the electoral laws.

The General-Secretary of the Christian Council, the Rev. Fred Deegbe, suggested that the election date  be changed from a weekend that fell on a church day.

He said if voting should be moved from December to either November or October, it would create ample time for transition from one government to another.

The Resident Director of Friedrich Ebert-Stiftung, a German Political Foundation in Ghana, Kathrin Meissner, praised the EC for distinguishing itself by organising a successful 2008 election.

Kathrin Meissner said she was convinced that one of the reasons why the EC had such a remarkable reputation was because it never rested, and never satisfied with past successes.

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