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30.08.2005 Politics

Odododiodoo: Polling station to be closed down?

Accra, Aug. 30, GNA - Mr. Albert Kofi Arhin, Director of Elections of the Electoral Commission, on Tuesday ordered that the Palladium polling station be relocated because it was too close to the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Office in the Odododiodoo Constituency.
He said it was wrong to site a polling station close to a party office or a drinking bar or any location that was not approved by the Electoral Commission.
This is to avoid undue interference in the electoral process, adding that siting of a polling station should be within the range of 500 metres.
He indicated that the anomaly was not detected during the 2004 Presidential and Parliamentary elections because the workload was voluminous so it could not catch the attention of the Commission. The order followed a complaint the NDC made to the Electoral Commission to relocate the polling station because it was close to the Odododiodoo constituency office of the NPP and it suspected that ballot papers were stuffed in the office to be used to rig the vote.
Representatives of two parties, Mr. Dan Botwe, Minister of Information and Mr E. T. Mensah, NDC MP for Ningo Prampram, both with some well-built bodyguards around them, after having a hearty chat, agreed that the office should remain open but then a minimal number of NDC officials would be kept around to ensure that there was no shady deal.
After some time a group of macho men also came in demanding that Mr E. T. Mensah should vacate the area or he would be subjected to beatings.
They complained that since Madam Amerley Tagoe, NPP MP for Ablekumah South and Deputy Minister of Lands, Forestry and Mines, was attacked because she was seen parading in an electoral area it was not right for Mr Mensah too to be in the area.
Efforts by heavily armed police to restore calm in the area proved futile until Mr E. T. Mensah was was persuaded to leave by his men. Nii Aryetey Boafi, Greater Accra Regional Secretary of the NPP, said EC knew that the constituency office was sited there before it located the polling station at the same area.
He noted, however, that at this very crucial moment the office could not be closed because it was a strategic office for monitoring. He accused the NDC for creating chaos and trying to make it impossible for the electorate to exercise their franchise.
Mr Botwe also said that the concern of the NDC was not justified and that it was rather preposterous, adding that the office would not be closed down.
In an earlier development, voters at Bukom Electoral Area heckled Madam Amerley Tagoe, whom they alleged was influencing voters by giving them money and other items.
The voters hooted and shouting at her, saying Odododiodoo Constituency was not her area and she therefore had no business moving from one area to the other.
They hooted at her and heckled her until the police intervened and whisked her into her car and she drove away. Apart from these events voting is progressing smoothly at all the polling stations the GNA has visited so far.