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Thumbs Up Jean Mensa, General Apathy But Peaceful Elections

Opinion

Thumbs Up Jean Mensa, General Apathy But Peaceful Elections



 

 

The District and Unit committee elections passed smoothly, except 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.

This time around it was only about peaceful demonstrations.

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In 2015, the district assembly elections was characterised by some violence, assault and demonstrations in various parts of the country.

A polling agent at the Bimbisec polling centre in the Nanumba North District of the Northern Region was slapped by a voter when he tried to stop him from voting twice.

There was no security agent present at the polling station at the time the incident occurred.

In the Western Region, residents staged a protest against the elections.

The residents of Kansaworado in Sekondi-Takoradi were angered by the last-minute disqualification of one of the aspirants, which according to them, came with no tangible reason.

The situation was not different at the Kwabre East district in Ashanti Region.

Security officials there had to intervene to disperse angry voters who besieged the Assembly office following the suspension of voting at the Kenyasi West electoral area.

The EC officials had decided to suspend the polls because they noticed an anomaly on the ballot papers and needed to print new ones.

But the residents did not take kindly to this explanation.

At the West Mamprusi district in the Northern region, voting was suspended as names, positions and pictures of candidates on the ballot papers were misrepresented.

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Fast forward to 2019, four years after, the Electoral Commission needs to be congratulated for a good job done, as well as Ghanaians in general for being law abiding despite the apathy and low turnout which characterizes every District Assembly and Unit Committe election since time memorial.

Information gathered from the Electoral Commission indicates that they set up an in house Committee made up of all categories of staff from district to headquarters. And it was chaired by the Chairperson herself to coordinate all aspects of the electoral cycle procurement, Printing of ballots and registers dissemination of materials etc.

Deputy Directors were delegated to monitor and supervise the printing of ballots for their regions.

They were given full ownership. This ensured that they work around the clock to review all drafts and correct them before printing was done. This eliminated to a large extent printing errors.

Again because ballots and registers and materials were sent well ahead of time a system was out in place that required districts officers and regional Directors to check thoroughly ballots and registers and report back for prompt correction.

Ekumfi Immuna & Aowin Security Threats

The few significant issues that came from the Ekumfi Immuna in the Mankessim District of the Central Region and the Aowin Municipality in the Western North Regions were handled expertly by the security agencies.

Some residents of these areas threatened to prevent the elections from being held in their areas over their reported deplorable roads.

At Ekumfi Immuna, some of them burnt car tyres and firewood in the middle of the road amidst curses and the branding of a machete to demonstrate the seriousness of their threat.

The polls were thus suspended in those areas.

In a letter dated 16th December, 2019, to the Electoral Commission from the Central Regional Commissioner of Police, they requested for the postponement of the District level and Unit Committee elections in Ekumfi Immuna Electoral area to avoid law, order and security disturbances.

“It must be explained that on 19th November 2019, the people of Ekumfi Immuna embarked on a demonstration against bad roads in their community.

“Immediately after the demonstration they started agitating that if their roads were not fixed, they would not allow the District Level and Unit Committee Elections to take place in the community,” the letter stated.

Intelligence gathered indicated that out of the three (3) candidates who are standing for the position of Assembly Member, two (2) and their supporters are opposed to the elections until their roads are fixed while one (1) and his supporters are ready for the elections.

It is in view of this that the election in the community was postponed to provide space for the issues in the electoral area to be resolved before the election is conducted.

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.

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.

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The District Level Elections officially closed at 1700 hours at almost all the polling stations across the country, with counting underway.

Security Deployed

A joint security force made up of 48,000 officers and other ranks were deployed for the District and Unit Committee elections.

The Officers and the men were drawn from the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Immigration Service, the National Fire Service, the Ghana Prisons Service and the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA).

Additionally, 1,500 policemen were deployed from Accra to support those in the six new regions and the Ashanti Region.

General Turnout

In 1988/89, the National Average Voter Turnout at the District Level Elections was – 59.3%; in 1994, it was 29.3%; 1998 – 41.6%; 2002 – 33.1%; 2006 – 39.3%; 2010 – 35.5% and 2015 – 30.6%.

About 57,030 candidates contested the nationwide assembly and unit committee elections, held every four years to strengthen democratic governance at the local level.

Only Nkoranza North, Nkoranza South and Lower Manya Krobo did not hold elections.

Of the figure, 18,510 put themselves up to become assembly members, while 38,520 contested to be in the Unit Committees.

The contestants of the District Assembly Elections comprised 17, 601 males and 909 females.

At the Unit Committee level, 3,751 females raced with 34,769 males.

There are a total of 6,272 electoral areas and each electoral area would be represented by one assembly member.

For the Unit Committees, there will be five for every electoral area.

We hope for a better and improved District Assembly and Unit Committees election in future.



A Ned

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