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18.12.2019 General News

Apathy, Boycott, Fight Greets District Elections

By News Desk
Apathy, Boycott, Fight Greets District Elections
LISTEN DEC 18, 2019

The district and unit committee elections passed smoothly, save for a few hiccups.

Although no cases of violence were recorded, some communities boycotted the national exercise in protest against the bad roads in the areas.

President, Vice vote
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia voted in their respective electoral areas in Kyebi and Walewale.

They were among the early voters.
President Akufo-Addo, who was accompanied by the First Lady, Mrs Rebecca Akufo-Addo, voted at the Rock of Ages Polling Station ‘B’.

In a short interview after casting his ballot, the President urged Ghanaians to participate in the elections, so that “you can elect your preferred candidate to the assembly”.

“If you sit at home, someone else will make that decision for you. So I am urging all Ghanaians to turn out in their numbers and vote,” he added.

Dr Bawumia also voted at the Kperiga D/A School Polling Station in Walewale, where he encouraged Ghanaians to turn out to vote, pointing out that national development began at the local level.

Former President John Dramani Mahama was not at Bole to cast his vote because his electoral area had only one contestant for the assembly member position.

Nonetheless, Mr Mahama took to Twitter to urge Ghanaians to step out to vote.

Turnout
Rounds by the Daily Graphic revealed apparent apathy and low turnout.

The usual long queues and eagerness to vote which characterise general elections were absent at polling centres, with voters trickling in to cast their ballots, while others stayed away completely from the national exercise.

Boycott
Residents of two communities in the Central and the Western North regions boycotted the civic responsibility to vote over deplorable roads in their respective areas.

The people of Ekumfi Immuna in the Ekumfi District in the Central Region boycotted the elections, after they had sent letters to the Electoral Commission (EC), the Ekumfi District Assembly and the police to that effect.

The Ekumfi District Director of the EC, Mr Samuel Ocran Aikins, in an interview on radio, said the police had advised the EC to hold on with the elections in the area.

Speaking on the issue, a youth leader of the community, Mr Abraham Armah Vifah, said the road from Esuehyia to Immuna was in a deplorable state.

He said the people had earlier held two demonstrations and sent petitions to the district assembly, drawing attention to the road, but no answers came from the authorities.

In the other case, about 36 chiefs and youth groups in the Aowin District in the Western North Region carried through a threat not to take part in the elections, reports Dotsey Koblah Aklorbortu.

The threat, which started with the hashtag #No-road-no-vote, saw a section of the people blocking the main Elubo-Asemikrom-Enchi road and other link roads to the district to prevent electoral officers from entering the district with electoral materials.

They warned that yesterday’s boycott was a precursor to boycotting the 2020 general election if the roads were not fixed.

They said the decision was taken during a meeting between the youth groups and chiefs from the various communities in the municipality.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic, a Spokesperson for the youth, Mr Joseph Turkson, said work on the 72-kilometre Elubo-Asemikrom-Enchi road, which started in 1992, had been abandoned, bringing untold hardships to the people.

Low turnout in Greater Accra
In the Greater Accra Region, the expectation of a high turnout was unmet, as many people showed little interest in the exercise and were seen going about their businesses, reports Timothy Ngnenbe.

The Daily Graphic visited some polling stations in areas including Adabraka, Kaneshie, Sukura, Latebiokorshie, Jamestown, Osu and Agbogbloshie between 8:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. and the turnout was generally low.

The usual hustle, bustle and jostling that greeted general elections were totally absent, with many polling stations left inactive.

Additionally, the long queues often associated with elections were non-existent, with election officials having very little to do.

Some of the people said they were not ready to vote because district level elections (DLEs) had no meaningful impact on their lives.

Others also said they could not waste their precious time on electing assembly members who could barely change their lives.

“Voting for assembly members will not put food on my table and so I’d rather go and work for food. I do not even know any of the contestants,” a lady who gave her name as Auntie Abena said.

Trend of votes
At the about 14 polling stations visited, the number of votes cast as of 12:30 p.m. at each station ranged between 14 and 61.

At the Kaneshie Methodist JHS “A,” “B” and “C” polling stations, as of about 9;30 a.m. only 17, 21 and 22 registered voters, respectively, had cast their votes out of the registered voter populations of 529, 527 and 582.

The number of voters who had cast their votes at the Latebiokoshie 2 and 3 Primary Polling stations “A” and “B” was not different from the other areas visited, as 40 and 52 voters, respectively, had cast their votes, out of the 685 and 652 voters on the two registers.

Hot spots
The situation was, however, different at the Amamomo Electoral Area at Agbogbloshie, where many people queued to cast their votes.

A tense atmosphere prevailed, with the supporters of the aspirants massing up at the polling stations and making it difficult for security officials to handle the crowd.

The hottest spots were the GPRTU Office Polling stations "A," "B," "C" and "D" at Old Fadama, where one of the candidates, affectionately called “Show Boy,” allegedly stormed the polling stations with some young men to disrupt the electoral process.

Security concerns
The policeman on duty said the situation got worse, such that he had to call for reinforcement to bring it under control.

“Some strong men wearing shirts that were branded ‘security’ invaded the area to cause confusion, but the other young men here went at them. I had to move in swiftly to ensure peace. But when I felt overwhelmed, I called for reinforcement and the police patrol team came in time to help restore calm,” he said.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic, the leader of one of the police monitoring teams from the Jamestown Police Station, Inspector Musah, said the police didn’t have adequate personnel to be deployed to all the polling stations in the Odododiodoo Constituency.

Unopposed in the North
Thirty-nine candidates contested the assembly election unopposed, out of the 382 who filed to contest the election in the Northern Region, reports Samuel Duodu.

The assembly election took place at 1,151 polling stations in 451 electoral areas across the region, except the Moshie Zongo Electoral Area in the Tamale metropolis, with six polling stations, where the election was postponed as a result of the swapping of the pictures of the candidates on the ballot papers.

The Northern Regional Director of the EC, Mr Lucas Yiryel, who disclosed this, said the order of the pictures of the candidates as they appeared on the notice of polls that were displayed before the election was swapped on the ballot papers, with the second picture being swapped with that of the seventh.

He added that the candidates argued that the displaced pictures on the ballot papers would mislead their supporters and, therefore, asked for a postponement of the election in the Moshie Zongo Electoral Area.

He said the decision was communicated to the EC Headquarters in Accra for the ballot papers to be reprinted, but he could not tell when the election would take place there.

Meanwhile, some parts of the Tamale metropolis recorded low turnouts.

EC speaks
Meanwhile, the Greater Accra Regional Director of the EC, Mr Kwame Amoah, has described the elections as largely successful.

He said although the turnout was disappointing, the commission was not surprised, looking at the trend of patronage of DLEs over the years.

“The withdrawal of the referendum partly accounted for the low turnout because we believe that if it had come off, the interest in the elections would have been higher,” he said.

He said the EC had not had any complaints about malfunctioning equipment, especially the biometric verification devices, as had happened in previous elections.

---graphic.com.gh

General News

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