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Opinions of Friday, 15 February 2013

Columnist: Abdul Karim Naatogmah

EC caught pants down over 241,000 foreign votes

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Without any shred of doubt, the Afari Djan led Electoral Commission has failed to prove the existence of 241,524 voters abroad and returning peacekeepers whose inclusion according to the EC bloated the provisional 13,917,366 to 14,158,890.

The Electoral Commission in response to the plaintiffs, Nana Akufo-Addo and Co’s ongoing Supreme Court case challenging the declaration of John Mahama as winner of the Presidential elections that produced John Dramani Mahama as President.

Responding to the plaintiff’s questioning the integrity of the voters who register in paragraph 6 of its response, the Electoral Commission stated “In answer to paragraph 12 of the Petition, the 2nd Respondent says that the initial provisional figure it announced of registered voters was 13,917,366.

After the conduct of registration of Foreign Service officials, students abroad on government scholarship, other Ghanaians working abroad in International organizations and the late registration of service personnel returning from international peacekeeping duties, it announced a figure of 14, 158,890 representing the raw entries in the Registration Database”.

To the petitioners, the EC’s response clearly justified a bloat of the biometric voters’ register by 241,524 as resulting from foreign registrations and the registration of returning peacekeepers.

This huge number of foreign registrations as indicated by the EC necessitated the plaintiffs in the ongoing case to request the Electoral Commission to produce the list of all 241,524 people it registered abroad, a request granted by the Supreme Court which gave the Commission seven days to produce this list of foreign registered voters.

However, after seven days of waiting, all the Electoral Commission could produce was a list of 705 Ghanaians representing Ghanaians in foreign missions, Ghanaians working in other international bodies and Students on Government Scholarship as well as a list of 2,178 returning peacekeepers.

On the foreign registrations, the EC indicated that it registered 182 Ghanaians in Europe, 106 in the Americas, 81 in Asia, 79 in East and South Africa, 93 in North Africa and 109 in West Africa. Fifty- five others were registered in Accra, comprising staff serving in Ghanaian missions abroad who had returned home.

On the returning peacekeepers, the EC answered that 120 personnel were registered in the Volta Region, 92 in the Brong Ahafo Region, 210 in the Northern Region, 216 in the Western Region, 106 in the Ashanti Region and 1,434 in the Greater Accra Region representing a grand total of 2,178.

The two lists which totaled 2,883, falls grossly short of the 241,524 demanded by the lawyers of the plaintiff which was duly granted by the Supreme Court.

Should the Electoral Commission fail to justify the inflation, it would validate the fear of many that the voter’s register was indeed tampered with.

Interestingly, the issue of the voters register seems to be deeper than the case of the 241,000 foreign votes.

What is even more baffling is the difference in the voters register figures used by the Electoral Commission in various processes and declarations which seem to point clearly that the Electoral Commission is itself not sure of the total voters register used for the December 7th General Elections.

In declaring the results of the Presidential election on December 9th, Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan quoted 14,158,890 as the total registered voters. Few days later, the electoral commission changed this figure on its website to 14,031,793, a figure still present on the Commission’s website. Strangely, the Commission used a totally new figure of 14,031,680 in gazetting the results of the elections.

Another interesting development is how the figures keep changing from Electoral Commission sources on the numbers in the voters register at the various stages of the electoral process. In responding to the plaintiff’s petition, the Electoral Commission indicated that after the foreign registrations, the figure jumped to 14,158,890; however speaking two days ago to the Daily Graphic, Mr. Amadu Sulley, a Deputy Commissioner, quoted 14,031,793 as the figure after the registration of Ghanaians abroad.

Even before the Supreme Court starts hearing on the substantive case, it has become crystal clear by the EC’s double standards that indeed the results declared were “Azaar” for which reason President Mahama’s legitimacy should be hanging in the balance.

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