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06.11.2004 Regional News

Security agencies asked to enforce laws to ensure peaceful elections

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Koforidua, Nov. 6, GNA - The Eastern Regional Police Commander, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Vincent Dzakpata has disclosed that some individuals and groups bent on disturbing the peace of the country, were engaged in anonymous telephone calls to threaten some parliamentary candidates and party activists or provoking their political opponents.

He has, therefore, called on security officers in the Region to rigidly enforce all laws relating to public elections and other criminal laws to maintain the peace before, during and after Election 2004. Addressing a day's seminar for Senior Security Agencies Officers in the Region at Koforidua on Friday, Mr Dzakpata cited reports reaching the Regional Police Command indicating the threats and the defacing, super imposition or destruction of party posters from the Somanya, Donkorkrom, Akim Swedru, Akim Tafo and Akim Ofoase areas.

The seminar, which the Eastern Regional Election Task Force organised, had the theme: "The Role of the Security Agencies in the Forthcoming General Elections."

ACP Dzakpata reminded them that as security officers "it is our duty to combine our forces and nip these activities in the bud", noting, however, that they could only do that successfully if they pursued the perpetrators, arrested and prosecuted those involved.

He referred them to President John Agyekum Kufuor's assurance to the country of a violence-free elections and asked them to brace themselves up to prove capable of the task by exhibiting strict political neutrality and impartial enforcement of the laws, irrespective of the status or political affiliations of those who might breach them.

The Regional Commander asked them to be conversant with the electoral rules and regulations and process so that they would be able to enforce them appropriately.

The Eastern Regional Director of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Mr Emmanuel Quaye-Sowah reminded them that since Ghanaians had chosen to be governed under a constitutional democratic dispensation, it devolved on all citizens, including the security agencies to uphold and promote the system to survive.

He reminded them that, even though, as citizens they would exercise their franchise on the polling day, yet as security personnel, it was important that they did not overtly or covertly expose their political affiliations in the discharge of their duties so that they would not lose the confidence of the public.

The Eastern Regional Director of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mr Sam Ntow took the officers through the electoral process and urged them to be conversant with them so as to assist ensure peaceful elections. He said no registered voter could be challenged for any reason on the polling day and reminded them that security personnel were not allowed to interfere with the voting process as the Presiding Officer was the sole supervisor at the polling station.

Mr Ntow said the EC was vetting the qualification of the nominators and supporters of presidential and parliamentary candidates to ensure that the process was not abused.

He announced that unlike the previous elections, there would no more be the Tender Ballot Papers for those who might find that their names had already been ticked for having voted.

The various Divisional and District Commanders briefed the seminar on the political situation of their areas.

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