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04.04.2012 Politics

EC Troubled Over Disturbances

By Daily Guide
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THE CHAIRMAN of the Electoral Commission, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, has expressed worry over disturbances in Kumasi, the Ashanti Regional capital, during the first phase of the biometric registration exercise.

He was troubled by the situation in Swedru in the Central Region where a registration machine was stolen last Sunday night at one of the centres.

Dr Afari-Gyan said there had been some disturbing matters arising, particularly in Kumasi.

He inquired to know the actions the police had taken so far.

Dr. Afari-Gyan was speaking yesterday at a short meeting during which the Inspector General of Police paid a courtesy call on him.

He noted that the visit was good news as his outfit was looking forward to such an opportunity to review the process and to map out fresh strategies to correct anomalies associated with the first phase of the 40 days exercise.

Dr. Afari Gyan sought to know if the police boss had put in place an action plan to combat the disturbing trends being encountered, especially by EC representatives across the country since the EC had no power of arrest or prosecution.

The EC made references to instances where its workers had been threatened, making them insecure in their place of work.

The IGP, Paul Tawiah Quaye, observed that the police had a rather huge task this year with respect to the registration and the pending elections.

He explained that his visit was to brief the chairman on his administration's observation during his recent tour of some of the registration centres in Accra.

The police chief intimated that the visit was also to create an arena for both agencies to review the whole process and to map out strategies to correct the anomalies faced in the first face of the registration exercise to forestall such anomalies in the next phase.

After the closed-door meeting, the Director of Public Affairs at the EC, Christian Owusu-Parry, told journalists that the IGP and his team had suggested police presence in all centres but the EC was of the view that it would need about 7000 men for such an exercise.

However, since there were problems in only a few of the centres, the police would be called in where and when necessary.

He observed that deploying 7000 personnel to registration centres across the country might cause a defect in the service.

Another issue the IGP raised in his discussion with the EC was faulty machines but that issue had been resolved.

The director also reiterated reasons for which the EC would not want to extend its period of registration, stressing that after the exercise, if some people were found not to have been able to register due to tangible reasons, special provisions could be made for them to register.

The PRO disclosed that the EC had a backup programme which made it possible to get every data if any of the machines get missing, stressing that the incident at Swedru, where one of the machines were stolen last Sunday night, would not in anyway affect the process.

'The machine has a lot of security features; therefore it is completely useless to the one who stole it,' he asserted.

The EC has equally made provision for persons who live around lakesides and may need to cross over to register.

He explained that the EC had hired boats to transport this group of persons to and from the various registration centres across the regions.

He mentioned that in the Brong-Ahafo Region, the Atebubu-Amantin District officer of the EC had to flee the town and now lived in Kumasi due to the fact that he had been threatened, adding that his safety was not guaranteed in that area.

In the Ashanti Region, the Suame officer was also threatened by local person.

So far, no arrest has been made regarding the above cases.

Dr. Afari Gyan urged the IGP and his officials to do all they could to arrest and prosecute offenders to serve as a deterrent to others who planned to foment trouble during the registration period.

BY Rocklyn Antonio

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