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General News of Monday, 18 March 2013

Source: Daily Guide

EC to prosecute officials – Dr. Afari-Gyan

Some officials of the Electoral Commission (EC) will soon be prosecuted for some offences they committed before and during the keenly contested December 2012 polls.

This was disclosed by the Chairman of the EC, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan in Ho during a two-day review meeting attended by stakeholders in the Volta Region.

The review, which was themed; “Enhancing the credibility of the 2012 elections,” was to enable the EC to get feedback from various stakeholders, including political parties, donors, civic society groups (CSOs), NGOs and the media.

It was sponsored by DFID, UK and facilitated by KAF Governance Consult.

According to him, the Commission was currently investigating some EC officials and Returning Officers for misappropriating funds meant for the training officers contracted for last year’s elections.

He said “we are hearing alarming numbers of persons who claim they were not trained” as prescribed by the Commission. While some were partially trained others were not trained at all, he said.

Dr. Afari-Gyan explained that in the run-up to the general elections, a lot of funds were set aside to train personnel to be engaged in the process due to the biometric verification component of the elections.

He added that due to the huge numbers of personnel to be contracted some EC officials and Returning Officers were trained and given funds to train other officials.

Some of these officials however allegedly contacted people they knew who were perceived to have experience in elections and gave them some money and handed them manuals, which were difficult to comprehend without some level of literacy.

That is what the Commission suspects accounted for some of the interesting conduct and confusion during the elections.

Dr. Afari-Gyan however noted that the prosecution of these persons will be subject to the outcome of the investigations being conducted.

That notwithstanding, he said the entire election process was free, fair and successful.

He said Ghana was the only country to have successfully applied biometric verification in the conduct of general elections in the world.

He added that “election is a big task” so organizing successful elections called for some commendation. That is not to say the entire elections was perfect, but that it was general successful, the EC boss said.

He hinted that the success had encouraged some countries to solicit the help of the EC towards the holding of their elections, an indication that “Ghana has something to celebrate.”

Dr. Afari-Gyan also said that some of the temporary staff had very “strong political affiliations.”

Dr. Afari-Gyan debunked claims that all people who assisted in the process were permanent staff of the Commission.

He said over 1,000 staff of the EC do not take part in the actual administration of the elections, but the over 130,000 personnel hired temporarily directly conducted the election for the EC.

These people, he noted, are from diverse backgrounds with diverse motives that have been picked out of many other applicants.

Out of the lot, the Polling station officials life last for the actual voting day (s), the Presiding Officers’ last for three days while the Returning Officers’ last for three months. Outside these periods none of the above can perform the duties they were hired for, he indicated.

Laurentia Kpatakpa, Volta Regional Director of the EC said though the December elections were “quiet and peaceful” in the region, some polling agents troubled the election officials.

She attributed the development to counter instructions offered them by their various political parties.

During the open forum, participants called for adequate training for all stakeholders including the security.

They also called for a national consensus on instances whereby biometric verification machines reject voters despite having other information intact.