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26.03.2004 General News

Rawlings tours registration centres in Ashaiman

By GNA

Ashaiman (G/A), March 26, GNA - Ex-President Jerry John Rawlings on Thursday toured some registration centres and indicted the staff of the Electoral Commission (EC) of starving National Democratic Congress (NDC) strongholds of registration forms so that more qualified voters in those areas could not register.

He said it was unfortunate that some staff of the EC had made sure that strongholds of New Patriotic Party (NPP) had enough registration forms, while known NDC areas were deficient of them.

Ex-President Rawlings, who was speaking to a milling crowd of NDC supporters, who followed him to some eight registration centres, said nobody qualified to register would accept being disenfranchised, adding that 18-year-olds should be encouraged to register so that they could vote.

"Your support for the NDC in 2004 can only be seen in concrete terms if you register massively, when the registration forms are made available, so that you can use our thumbs to sack NPP from power. If we make a mistake to allow them to stay in power again, this country is finished," he said.

Ex-President Rawlings said: "The way I see the next voting exercise is that Professor John Evans Atta Mills, NDC Flag Bearer, is going to beat NPP Flag Bearer, President John Agyekum Kufuor by a margin that we have not experienced in this country".

He cautioned NDC activists to make sure that "we observe critically to prevent acts of fraud and stealing during the Voters' Registration Exercise currently going on and the December voting exercise".

He said the NPP would attempt to cheat so that they could remain in the seat of Government to enable them to cover up some of the heinous crimes that they had committed in their four years rule during which no corrupt official had been arrested and tried.

Ex-President Rawlings said "we will not allow Ghanaians to be reduced to slaves, with those in government being their slave masters". to each centre and on Thursday, 500 of the old 2000 registration forms were added to each centre.

The Director of Public Relation of the EC, Mr Henry W. Okyne told the GNA that the initial problem of shortage of materials was not restricted to specific areas. It was experienced generally in the Greater Accra Region and other urban centres but that had since been rectified.

He said all those who genuinely wanted to register could do so between now and Monday and appealed to political party leaders to encourage their followers to register.

Mr Okyne explained that the shortages occurred because there had been population movements and that accounted for the EC's inability to send the correct number of forms to the various centres.

Mr Alfred Agbesi, NDC Parliamentary Candidate for Ashaiman, stressed the need for NDC members to demonstrate their support by registering as voter so that they could boot NPP out of power. He said NPP won the Ashaiman seat in 2000 by default. "That was a mistake of NDC. NDC is still alive and hope to show our might and we could only achieve this if all of us remain united."

Mr Tonny Apeku, Defected Parliamentary Candidate, denied rumours that he wanted to stand as an independent candidate and said anytime Ashaiman won elections, NDC formed the government, so there was the need to unite forces for the party to make progress.

Alhaji Issifu Akakade, Chairman of the Constituency, said he was encouraged by the massive turn out for such an unannounced meeting, which had come about as a result of the visit of Ex-President Rawlings. Other speakers were Mr E.T. Mensah, MP for Ningo/Prampram and Mr Eddie Palmer, Greater Accra Regional Executive Member of NDC.

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