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07.12.2004 General News

EC boss tells radio stations to stop broadcasting voting intentions

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Accra, Dec. 7, GNA - Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission (E/C), on Tuesday cautioned radio stations, especially radio presenters, to desist from broadcasting live the voting intentions of the electorate, saying it was tantamount to campaigning.

Dr Afari-Gyan said he had reports that some stations were airing live interviews, which asked voters about the parties they intended voting for at the polling stations.

"You must be circumspect in your reportage from the polling centres," he said. "Political campaigning ended last Sunday and it is against the Electoral Law and Regulations to make utterances that have the potential of influencing voters."

Dr Afari-Gyan also cautioned radio stations against broadcasting allegations of irregularities before crosschecking them to avoid creating tension and conflicts.

The Chairman is touring polling stations in Accra to monitor the elections.

So far, he has visited polling centres at Legon Hall, University of Ghana, Christian Village and Dunia Cinema, Nima.

Activities in the national capital reduced considerably in the early hours of Tuesday due to the presidential and parliamentary elections that began earlier in the day.

The normal heavy vehicular and human traffic found on the streets of Accra were absent as voters were either queuing to cast their votes at the designated polling stations or travelling outside Accra to their roots to vote.

Travelling from Ashongman in the Dome-Kwabenya Constituency to Accra, the GNA found that the normal heavy traffic from Madina through Legon and the Tetteh Quarshie Roundabout was non-existent as drivers of the few vehicles on the road sped along.

The large groups of passengers, who normally thronged the roads to catch a vehicle to their destinations, were absent.

There were only a few of the numerous vendors, who paraded the streets and pushed their wares into the noses of passengers. A few newspaper vendors tried to cash in to sell the dailies and weeklies whose front pages had colour pictures of aspiring candidates.

Though it was too early for the roasted plantain and yam sellers, most of the kenkey and porridge sellers, who did businesses in the early mornings, were also missing even at the Ministries area.

Rather, long queues were found at all the polling stations where people had gathered and were waiting patiently to cast their votes. At the Kwabenya Police station, Mr Joe Oduro-Nyarko said voting started on time because the materials arrived well before 0700 hours. He said the polling assistants met a long queue of voters before voting was officially opened.

Mr Yaw Asare, who voted at the Station, said he reached the centre at 0545 hours and found a long queue indicating that people might have reached the centre around 0400 hours.

Polling got off to a successful start at exactly 0700 hours at most of the polling stations in Ashanti Region, except for a few isolated cases of minor problems, which delayed the voting.

As early as 0300 hours, people had queued to be able to cast their votes early and thereafter, go about their normal businesses. At some polling stations in the Kumasi Metropolis for instance, even though there were long queues they were not as meandering as anticipated.

Voting generally has been orderly with voters either going back home or to their places of work immediately after casting their votes. One voter, who said he is a long distance driver and wanted to remain anonymous, told the GNA that he rushed to Kumasi from Accra to be able to vote early, saying: " I have parked my vehicle containing goods, which I have not discharged to join the queue at 0300 hours and by 0730 hours, I had cast my vote."

He said having cast his vote he was now going to take his vehicle to discharge his goods.

The mood of this driver and the anxiety to vote early summed up the mood of most eligible voters in the Kumasi Metropolis.

So far, there have been no reported cases of violence or any irregularities in almost all the polling centres in the Metropolis, as voting has been going on smoothly.

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