The NDC flagbearer, Prof. Atta Mills has said that the management of the electoral process under the NPP Government has been fraught with suspicion, confusion and manipulation, Speaking at a press conference organised by the NDC to draw attention to some of the negative happenings on the political landscape, Prof. Mills asserted the commitment of the leadership of the NDC to work for the unity and stability of the nation. He added that, “Only transparent and free and fair elections can guarantee that; and that is largely in the hands of the NPP.”
Prof. Mills expressed the party's sympathies to all those voters in the Greater Accra, Volta, Western and Central Regions in particular, and voters in the other regions who had to go through “sheer trauma attempting to get their photographs taken for the new voters register.”
He noted that, “in the Ashanti Region, special arrangements were made for constituencies outside the Kumasi Metropolis to enable all available photo-taking and registration material to be mobilised for a near 100% coverage. As part of this special arrangement, Kumasi Metropolis was given an exclusive eight (8) days for their own photo taking exercise.”
“On the contrary, Greater Accra Region, which has the highest number of registered voters, was not given any such dispensation except for an additional one day extension that was reluctantly granted in response to public pressure,” Prof. Mills noted.
He recalled that right from the beginning of the photo-taking exercise in the Upper West and Upper East Regions, complaints started coming in that the cameras were insufficient; that there were shortages of films and laminators, that the rate of spoilage of the photographic films was very high, that the camera people were mostly amateurs, and that the pictures were in black and white; but these complaints were not given any serious attention by the EC and the Government.
Drawing attention to events that were clearly indicative of the NPP's desire to manipulate the electoral process to their advantage, Prof. Mills said, “the NPP Government deliberately delayed in the release of the financial resources required by the Commission and therefore disabled the Commission from being able to plan and execute its plans timeously.”
He gave as an example the fact that by the EC's own programme, the registration and photo-taking exercise should have taken place last year, and attributed many of the problems the Commission is encountering today to the delay in the release of the needed finances. To him therefore, the seeds of the problem and the confusion had been sown long before the photo-taking exercise.
Though he acknowledged that there were acts of commission and omission on the part of the EC that were responsible for both the problem and the confusion. Prof. Mills said: “As leader of the NDC, I have been in the forefront of the crusade for peaceful elections. It has even earned me a name, “Asomdweehen”. I am making sure that my Party members take a cue from my stance. Unfortunately, what we see and hear on the part of the NPP is a party preaching peace in public but preparing to unleash violence and mayhem in secret. That must stop. The language of violence must also stop. The intimidation of NDC supporters must stop. The intimidation of the supporters of the other opposition parties must stop. The para-military activities of the so-called “Peace Seekers International” must stop. The political intolerance of the NPP Government must stop. The manipulation and censorship of the state owned media must stop. The “Party Police” must be abolished.”
While reiterating that he will continue to insist on peaceful elections, he however warned the NPP Government that they cannot and must not take the patience and diplomacy of the leadership of the NDC, and indeed of the entire opposition for granted.
“President Kufuor cannot pretend to be unaware of all that is going on. He must call his people to order. I appeal to President Kufuor to create the atmosphere and the environment for free, fair, peaceful and transparent elections, and enable the EC through a policy of both non-interference in its activities and the timeous and adequate provision of resources to conduct the elections.” Prof. Mills asserted.
He also pointed out that there was growing evidence of anger, dissatisfaction and frustration among NDC's supporters, and as the leader he could not ignore their justified concerns in the face of clear attempts to manipulate the elections. “If we do not take care, there may come a time when we will not be able to contain the anger and frustration of our people” he added.
He closed with this plea: “May we all play our part to ensure that the new democracy, built on the solid rock of sacrifice of the people of this country, survives till eternity”