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01.12.2004 General News

Hackman calls for neutrality from Security Agencies

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Accra, Dec. 1, GNA - The Interior Minister Hackman Owusu-Agyemang on Wednesday exhorted personnel of the various security agencies to ensure that the integrity of the forthcoming elections was maintained to guarantee the safety of the country's young democracy.

He said their neutrality was absolutely necessary to ensure that the elections were conducted in a free and secure environment irrespective of their political affiliations.

"What is important is that your political affiliation should not be brought to bear on your actions and decisions as they relate to the elections."

Mr Owusu-Agyemang was addressing a day's workshop for members of the National Election Taskforce and key members of the Regional Taskforces from all the security services in the country in Accra. The workshop was the final preparatory meeting to fine-tune all security arrangements and assess the preparedness of the agencies towards peaceful elections. The UNDP and the National Governance Programme (NGP) funded it.

All the Regional Commanders of the various security agencies - the Police, Immigration, Fire, Prisons and Customs, Excise and Preventive Service attended the workshop.

Mr Owusu-Agyemang said what the country required from the security personnel was loyalty to the State and to do their duty without fear or favour.

He warned that any security personnel, who abused the trust of the Ghanaian public, would be made to face the full rigours of the law. The Minster said though the task of maintaining peace during the elections might be daunting, considering the numerical strength of the security agencies, he was confident that they would be capable of performing creditably before, during and after the elections to ensure that peace was maintained in the country.

He said, even though, it had not been possible to provide them with all the resources needed for effective and efficient performance during the election period, what had been provided so far within the constraints of the economy should enable them to deliver satisfactorily. Mr Owusu-Agyemang cautioned security personnel to restrict their activities to monitoring the elections and to notify the presiding officer at the polling station or the security detail if there were breaches to the electoral process, and not take it upon themselves to effect any changes to whatever was happening.

Dr Kwadwo Afari Djan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), told the security agencies that what the EC expected of them was to maintain general peace during the elections so that the process went on smoothly.

He said the EC also expected safe custody of election materials because some of the materials, particularly the provisional votes to be cast on December 4, had been moved to the Police Stations. Dr Afari Djan asked that the Police kept the order at all the 21,000 polling stations nationwide and asked them not take part in the actual administration of the elections.

He said the EC expected the Police to arrest all election offenders and promptly prosecute them and to maintain absolute neutrality before, during and after the elections.

The Inspector General of Police, Nana Owusu-Nsiah said the preparation of the security agencies towards the elections was far advanced and that the necessary funds and logistics had been distributed to make their work easier.

Mrs. Theodora Kyeremanteng, Coordinator of the NGP, said the conduct of election was a critical stage in Ghana's democracy and called on the security agencies to adopt effective strategies towards peace. The security agencies would be responsible for ensuring the security of the movement of election officials as well as materials. Additionally they would provide security at polling stations, installations and offices of the National Electoral Commission and Election Results Centres.

After the elections, they (security agencies) would be needed at places where election results are to be transmitted or received, results centres and at press conferences to announce the winners of the elections.

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