General News of Wednesday, 3 September 2008
Koforidua, Sept. 3, GNA - Police Superintendent John Naami, Chairman of the New Juaben Election Task Force, on Wednesday said political parties were prohibited under the public order act to possess arms or weapons during party activities such as rallies. He said it was even illegal for private registered arms to be carried by their owners to any party activity in the name of protection. Supt Naami said this at a meeting with representatives of political parties and members of the task force committee in Koforidua, to discuss matters that were likely to create confusions in the run- up to the presidential and parliamentary elections.
He said "the responsibility and power of protecting lives and property at such functions rests with the police, hence the need to obtain police permit to ensure that personnel were detailed to handle that aspect".
Mr Naami who is also the New Juaben Municipal Commander of Police, said the police by their mandate were impartial and warned political parties to abide by the provisions of the public order act during the campaign, "or dance the tune of their drums irrespective of their status".
He said it was in the interest of the parties to have trust in the security services and to cooperate with them, because "the police are well prepared on the ground to ensure peaceful and violence free elections". The Municipal Electoral Officer, Ms Lydia Egyiri who shared the views of Supt Naami emphasized that the provisions of the code of conduct signed and adopted as a guide by the political parties was based on the Public Order Act.
She refuted allegations that during the just ended voters registration exercise, some party activists of the NPP were recruited as registration assistants and that led to unfair distribution of registration materials.
Ms Egyiri explained that the Electoral Commission (EC) being mindful of the sensitivity of elections, probes into the background of all the temporary staffs they recruited in the electoral processes through investigations and observation to ensure neutrality. She explained that the code of conduct for the parties was signed by the chairpersons and the general secretaries of all the political parties and that enjoined them to abide by it. The Eastern Regional Director of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Mr Emmanuel Quaye-Sowah, told the representatives that the December election was not "a do and die affair" as some parties had taken it "reducing the meaning of election as a component of democracy to a fight of the survival of the fittest". He called on leaders of the parties to educate their followers who were mostly caught up in acts of violence, to understand that there were structures in place for them to air their grievances. The task force committee is made up of the commanders of all the security agencies in the municipality and some selected members from the public. 3 Sept. 08