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General News of Saturday, 15 December 2012

Source: Daily Graphic

CHRAJ rates elections free, fair

The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has rated the December 7, 2012 Election as "free, fair and reflecting the will of the electorate."

It said although there were some irregularities and challenges during the polls, they were not significant enough to affect the outcome of the results.

The verdict of CHRAJ, captured in it's preliminary report on its observation and monitoring of the elections, is in tandem with other observation reports from the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) and the ECOWAS observer group, since the release of the results on Sunday, December 9, 2012.

The eight page preliminary report of CHRAJ, signed by the Commissioner of CHRAJ, Ms Lauretta Vivian Lamptey, gives a brief on the monitoring activities of the National Human Rights Commission, prior to and during the two-day polling period.

Principally, the Commission, set out to monitor the right of Ghanaians to vote.

Significantly, the CHRAJ noted challenges in the enjoyment of the right as a result of the failure of verification machines in many parts of the country.

"The situation was more serious in Greater Accra, Northern and Upper East regions, where the Commission's observers directly encountered eleven of such polling stations," the report stared.

It said the challenges with the verification equipment, leading to the suspension of voting at certain polling station, created anxiety and frustration among voters.

Additionally, it resulted in the devising of unscientific methods, such as the buying of coca cola to wash the hands, to enable the verification equipment capture the fingerprints, observed by CHRAJ at the Inti-Suariya Primary School polling station.

The report added that "at the Kanvilli R/C Polling Centre in Tamale, a hot coal pot was provided for voters to dry their hands after washing with soap and water before their fingers could be captured. Most of those affected by the problems of verification were elderly women, some young women who had dyed their hands and fingers with a local herb called 'lenle' were also affected."

CHRAJ also pointed out other challenges that tended to undermine the right to vote. The late arrival of polling materials at some stations, partisan broadcasts by some media houses, incumbency abuse and influences by some opposition parties, the flouting by chiefs of the constitutional injunction not to engage in active partisan political activity, and the flouting of the Code of Conduct of Public Servants by public servants who were seen openly campaigning for votes, as well as the use of children in political campaigning, were some of the observations that CHRAJ said impinged on Ghanaians right to vote.

The Commission, deployed 335 monitors and observers and monitored about 2000 polling stations, including stations in some prisons.