Accra, July 1, GNA - The National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Thursday accused the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) of frustrating, pressurising and intimidating the Electoral Commission (EC) to succumb to its whims and caprices to enable it to rig Election 2004.
It said the NPP Government was doing this by retiring experienced Members of the Commission using age and replacing them with new ones on the eve of the Registration of Voters Exercise, while in other sensitive areas people, who were far above the retiring age were still at post.
Professor John Evans Atta Mills, NDC Flag Bearer for Election 2004 made the accusations on Thursday at a press conference to dilate on: "NDC's Concern About Preparations Towards the December 2004 Elections." He said the scheming by the Ruling Party had affected the management of the electoral process giving room for suspicion and confusion.
The NDC Candidate stressed that the EC, which demonstrated beyond doubt it ability to conduct transparent, free and fair elections in 1992, 1996 and 2000 was now fumbling seriously in doing what they are best noted for.
"There is only one reason for this; a power above the Commission is controlling affairs without adhering to basic electoral regulations, principles and modalities," he said.
He cited some of the attempts to manipulate the EC to include the Government's decision to issue Voters' Identification Card under a National Identification Card System and efforts to impose a Procurement Committee on the EC.
"Having failed in their previous attempts, the Government embarked on the most offensive and ridiculous of all its arsenal of tricks" by unleashing the Auditor-General on the Chairman of the Commission, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan and giving him the ridiculous and embarrassing assignment to audit the Association of African Election Authorities Account, which was definitely outside his scope of operation.
Prof Mills also accused the Government of deliberately delaying the release of funds to the EC.
He cautioned that the patience of the rank and file of the NDC had been tested to the breaking point through the intimidation, frustration and electoral rigging schemes of the NPP.
Prof Mills said the NDC Leadership would continue to do all it could to ensure peaceful elections but the best guarantee was a transparent, free and fair election, which largely depended on how the NPP Government conducted itself.
He said the former NDC Government exhibited a high level of political tolerance during the previous elections even in the face of the most provocative utterances from the NPP, then in opposition. "These attempts by the NPP Government to influence the electoral process and determine the electoral outcome have been accompanied by other developments that give cause for concern that the electoral playing field would not be even.
"There are clear attempt to rig the elections, and that the ruling party is planning violence to intimidate our supporters to prevent them from going to cast their vote on election day.
On why the press conference was fixed on Republic Day, Prof Mills said: "I have done so deliberately because I believe that in the midst of the festivities marking the Day, we must devote some time to reflect on the way forward for our dear country.
"This is particularly important in this election year when we must manage the electoral process in a way that would guarantee the stability of the Republic."
Prof, Mills used the occasion to congratulate Ghanaians for the part each had played in bringing the country this far: "I would further like on behalf of the NDC to congratulate our senior citizens, especially the generation that struggled for independence to whom this day has been dedicated since 1996, for blazing the trail for the younger generations to follow."