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06.08.2002 General News

Local Government Elections Today

Local Government Elections Today
LISTEN AUG 6, 2002

THE Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, has appealed to the electorate to turn out massively to vote in today’s district assembly and unit committee elections. He said voters must take both polls seriously since they play a crucial role in the decentralisation process as well as the nation’s development agenda. In an interview in Accra yesterday, he said, “We must view the two structures in the decentralisation process as very important since their success or failure will impact on our daily lives.” Mr Baah-Wiredu said a total of 14,141 candidates are contesting the election which is expected to begin at 7.00 a.m. and end at 5.00 p.m. Out of the number , 981 are females. The minister described this year's female representation as encouraging, compared to previous elections. He, therefore, expressed the hope that more women will take keen interest in and contest future elections. Mr Baah-Wiredu wished all the candidates the best of luck and also appealed to all voters to endeavour to exercise their franchise in a peaceful and orderly atmosphere, devoid of partisan politics. He commended old assembly members for the services they have rendered to the various assemblies which, he said, form a major contributory factor to the success of the decentralisation process and expressed the hope that they will continue to assist the assemblies in diverse ways. "We thank you all for your meritorious services in the country's decentralisation process ..., your collective actions have cushioned the nation's development process” and “I hope you will be available at all times to put your knowledge and experience at the service of the assemblies. Mr Baah-Wiredu was particularly appreciative of the role played by the media in relation to the elections.
He said the ministry has taken note of all the criticisms and suggestions which he said would be analysed to serve as a guide in the operations of the assemblies and the unit committees. The minister expressed appreciation to the Electoral Commission as well as the public for the role they have played so far in the exercise. Mr Baah-Wiredu threw more light on issues concerning the ministry's directive to all metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to pay between ¢500,000 and ¢600,000 to all assembly members as ex-gratia awards. He said the ministry is aware of the concerns raised in some quarters that the figure quoted was not enough. He explained that the 1992 Constitution and the Local Government Act stipulate that all assemblies must be capable of paying a quoted figure and considering the resources and strength of some of the assemblies, the amount recommended was the best. Mr Baah-Wiredu explained that "we are looking at a national perspective and it is, therefore, important that an acceptable and affordable figure is quoted in order to ensure that all the assemblies are capable of effecting payment in accordance with the law." The minister advised all district assemblies to manage their resources in a way that will generate more revenue for their upkeep. He advised all in-coming assembly members to perform better since the success or failure of their various assemblies and for that matter the electorate depends on them. The minister said it a great challenge for the new assembly members who would be elected today and urged them to prove equal to the task of championing the cause of a new, dynamic assemblies that would give meaning to development at the village and town levels. He announced that all the contestants will be awarded certificates of participation and appreciation by the ministry after the elections.
All Set For Polls The Electoral Commission (EC) says it is ready for the local government elections scheduled for Tuesday, August 6. The EC Director of Public Affairs, Mr Henry Okyne said all arrangements, which include dispatching of electoral materials, have been completed. He said the voting materials have been sent to the regional and district capitals for onward distribution to the polling stations and the various ministries and, departments have been contacted through the Regional Co-ordinating Councils to help convey materials and electoral personnel to the polling stations. Mr Okyne said personnel of the Police, Prisons, Fire and Customs, Excise and Preventive Services would man the 20,113 polling stations throughout the country, while Military personnel would be on the standby at potential conflict areas but would not be at the polling stations. He said voting would start at 0700 to 1700 hours with the entire process-taking place in the open view of the public. Outlining the voting process, Mr Okyne said agents of candidates would be allowed at polling stations to observe the voting process. Presiding Officers in charge of polling stations would inspect the ballot papers in the presence of the agents, enter the total number, show the ballot boxes to the public to ascertain that it is empty and then place them in the open for voting. He said the ballot paper would bear the names and photographs of candidates for the electoral area. Mr Okyne said every voter in the queue at the polling stations at the close of polls at 1700 hours would be allowed to vote. Counting of ballot cast starts immediately after the last voter. He said the Presiding Officer might extend the voting period if circumstances prevented the start of poll at 0700 hours. At the close of the poll, the Presiding Officer would open the ballot box in the presence of agents and any other person who would like to witness it from a reasonable distance. The Presiding Officer would sort out ballots cast in favour of each candidate, count them to the hearing of those present and once everybody is satisfied, record it on the Result Form. Mr Okyne said the Presiding Officer would sign the form while the agents certify and the results recorded. He said even though each polling station declares its own results, the overall winner for the electoral area is not known until results from all polling stations within it have been tallied up. A total of 14,141 candidates have filed nominations to contest for the elections out which 981 are female candidates. The last election had 163 female and 418 male candidates elected into the assemblies

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