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23.03.2006 General News

NDC protest against seeming bias of Electoral Commission

By GNA

Accra, March 23, GNA - The National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Thursday cautioned the Electoral Commission (EC) to be mindful that its neutrality in elections depended largely on confidence it was able to infuse into its activities. The NDC said the credibility and transparency of the electoral system was the surest safeguard for peace in a rather volatile constituency like Tamale Central.

The NDC was reacting to a letter the EC wrote and signed by Mr A.K Arhin, Director of Election to all political parties contesting the Tamale Central bye-election asking them to send two (2) representatives each on Thursday, March 23, this year to observe the printing of ballot papers for the parliamentary election. Although the letter was dated March 21, this year the NDC said it received its letter on Thursday, March 23, this year at 11.55 am when the printing was supposed to be taking place. The NDC in a letter dated Thursday (March 23) and signed by its General Secretary, Mr Johnson Asiedu-Nketia said it acknowledged the receipt of the EC's letter inviting "us to send two officers of our party to observe the printing of ballot papers for the parliamentary bye-election in Tamale Central."

The NDC said, "We wish to place on record that this particular letter, even though dated 21st March was delivered to us at our party headquarters at 11.55 a.m. today 23rd March when the officers were supposed to have reported to the Commission's office at 9.00 a.m. today, Thursday 23rd March. "In all previous elections the Electoral Commission had conducted a ballot among the candidates to determine their position on the polling notices and on the ballot paper. "One cardinal rule consistently applied has been that candidates representing political parties are placed first on the list before independent candidates."

The NDC said, "In the case of this election the Electoral Commission unilaterally decided on the positions without consulting or even informing us about any change of rules. It said, "A copy of the polling notice sighted by us indicates that there has been a mix-up of political parties and independent candidates with the picture and symbol of an independent candidate Professor Wayo Seini placed first. "In all previous elections voter educators of the Electoral Commission had conducted their duties through public fora and announcements on vans fitted with public address systems. The public nature of their activities provided a check on the display of their individual or group political biases in the conduct of their professional duties.

The NDC said, "In the current case, information reaching us indicate that a group of about 34 people claiming to be political educators have been mandated by the Electoral Commission to individually move from house to house in Tamale Central Constituency to conduct political education. "It is our belief as a political party that the credibility of an election which is the surest safeguard for peace in a rather volatile constituency like Tamale Central depends largely on confidence in the political neutrality of the Electoral Commission. The NDC said such events, as it stated could undermine the confidence of "our party members and supporters in the Tamale Central constituency in the political neutrality of your staff engaged in the bye-elections." It asked the Commission to take necessary steps to address the above concerns to safeguard the integrity of the bye-election.

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