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Politics of Saturday, 26 November 2016

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Ayawaso Central NDC, NPP in blame game

The two main political parties in the Ayawaso Central Constituency have engaged in a blame game about who are the perpetrators of violence during elections in the area.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) accused each other of secretly training ‘macho men’ to be used for fomenting chaos during the December 7 election.

The issue came to light during separate meetings between the members of the Nima Divisional Election Security Task Force and the executives of the various political parties in the Ayawaso Central Constituency on Tuesday.

The meeting was part of a dialogue series being organised by the Nima Divisional Police Command which chairs the Election Security Task Force to ensure peace and security during the elections.

The task force comprises all district police commanders, representatives of the Ghana National Fire Service, the Ghana Prison Service, the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) and the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA).

Macho men

The NPP Ayawaso Constituency office was the first port of call for members of the task force and they were welcomed by the executive of the party, including the incumbent Member of Parliament (MP), Mr Henry Quartey; a former MP of the area, Sheikh Ibrahim Cudjoe Quaye, and some other leaders.

Mr Quartey told the team that they had information that the constituency executive of the NDC had recruited some 60 ‘Macho men’ who had been put in a group called Zarakoza and were being taken through rigorous training.

According to him, the Zarakoza men would be used to intimidate voters in the strongholds of the NPP in the area, snatch ballot papers and cause confusion in the polling stations where the NPP considers as their strongholds.

Currently, he said all posters of the NPP parliamentary and presidential candidate in the area had been defaced and in some cases removed from walls, poles and other surfaces where they had been posted.

Mr Quartey said he and some members of the party had received threats to their lives on a number of occasions and added that he had formally written to the regional police command to request for police protection for his life and family.

After commending the election security task force for initiating a series of dialogues and meetings to bring the political parties together to share their concerns with the security, he pleaded with the police to discharge their duty on the election day without fear or favour.

Although he pledged to work with the police to safeguard the peace in the area, he said, “We will not be intimidated. We are men and we will not allow any one to intimidate us.”

One people

For his part, the NPP constituency Secretary, Alhaji Seidu Salifu, said there were 143 polling stations and five electoral areas in the constituency and more than 88,000 eligible voters.

He stated that although the area had experienced a few skirmishes during elections in the past, it had been generally peaceful, with the police playing a very major role in ensuring that peace was maintained.

On hot spots in the area, Mr Salifu said during the 2012 election, there was election-related violence at the Panama, Apex, St Micheal and Ebony polling stations, and it took the swift intervention of the military to restore calm.

He appealed to the police to be fair and firm in their operations in the coming election to ensure that the peace in the area was safeguarded.

Shiekh I. C. Quaye said it was important to ensure peace as all the residents and eligible voters in the area were one people. “We may belong to different political parties but some of us belong to the same family.”

NDC office

When the task force visited the NDC Ayawaso Central Constituency Office at Kotobabi in Accra, the party executive, who were not privy to the early meeting with the NPP executive, also raised counter accusations listing almost the same issues.

The parliamentary candidate for the NDC, Mr William Affum Ani-Agyei, also said the NDC had information that, the NPP had recruited ‘Macho men’ and added that “we have not engaged any ‘macho men’ to support us.”

He said the NDC “would not want to take the role of the police. There might be a challenge during the election only if the police fail to act swiftly or act in a biased manner.”

Mr Ani-Agyei urged the police to “treat any person who foments trouble in the area during the election as an individual and not as a member of any political party.”

He said the NDC had confidence in the police as they had always acted swiftly and professionally.

Mr Ani-Agyei was also of the view that all the residents in the constituency were one people as “they have family members and friends in different political parties.”

A member of the NDC campaign team, Alhaji Sumalia Dickson, told the police that tension was brewing in the area between the NPP and the NDC.

“We are peeved by some of the provocative actions of our opponents. We are human, we are men. We always retreat to ensure peace. This time, we will show them we are men. They claim we are preparing. We also have information that they are preparing,” he said.

Mr Dickson called on the police to set up a meeting between the executives of the two political parties during which they could dialogue and commit themselves to ensure peace in the area.

A former chairman of the NDC Ayawaso Central Constituency, Mr Peter Adeka, stated: “Although there seems to be calm, there is a storm beneath.”

He also said the posters of the parliamentary candidate of the area had been defaced or removed by supporters and followers of the NPP, adding “we are not comfortable with the development at all.”

The constituency communications officer said the NDC as a party had always been disciplined, “yet anytime we have our rally, the NPP uses motorbikes to disrupt our activities, but we have not made any attempt to retaliate.”