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General News of Monday, 31 August 2020

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

FLASHBACK: Observers confirm presence of 'macho men' at registration centres

File photo of Ghanaians in queue at a registration centre File photo of Ghanaians in queue at a registration centre

The Electoral Commission, prior to the 2008 General Elections, organised a limited voters registration exercise to offer Ghanaians, who turned 18 since the last registration exercise as well as those who for one reason or the other never registered, the opportunity to be registered as voters.

The registration exercise, however, according to a report by the National Enforcement Body (NFB) of Election 2008 Code of Conduct for political parties confirmed the presence and obstruction of registration process by "macho men" during the 13-day nationwide exercise.

The NFB revealed at a press conference that the infractions that characterised the registration exercise marred the beauty of the whole exercise.

"Our observers witnessed minors accompanied by heavily-built men (macho men) in some areas who made it difficult for party agents to question those who they suspected were under-age.

"This led to assaults and gunshots at some of the registration centres in some of the regions throughout the country," the Reverend Dr Fred Deegbe, Chairman of the National Enforcement Body, told newsmen at a press conference in Accra.

Fast forward to the 2020, the same voter registration exercise was also characterised by assaults, gunshots and chaos at some stations.

Dominant among them is that of the chaos that erupted at a voter registration centre in the Awutu Senya East constituency in the Central Region.

Read the full story originally published by the GNA in 2008 and curated on GhanaWeb:

The National Enforcement Body (NFB) of Election 2008 Code of Conduct for political parties on Thursday confirmed the presence and obstruction of registration process by "macho men" during the 13-day nationwide limited voter registration exercise.

"Our observers witnessed minors accompanied by heavily-built men (macho men) in some areas who made it difficult for party agents to question those who they suspected were under-age.

"This led to assaults and gunshots at some of the registration centres in some of the regions throughout the country," the Reverend Dr Fred Deegbe, Chairman of the National Enforcement Body, told newsmen at a press conference in Accra to express concern about the infractions that characterised the registration exercise.

The NFB has therefore launched investigations into the reported cases of violence and registration of minors.

It has also tasked its regional enforcement bodies to investigate breach of the code of conduct, the Political Parties Law (Act 574) and other relevant electoral laws and report back to the national body for the necessary action.

The NFB was constituted by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) with membership from civic organisations, religious bodies, traditional authorities, Electoral Commission, political parties, security experts and democratic institutions.

Rev Deegbe said the investigations would ensure that the electioneering campaign did not degenerate into violence. He said: "The acts of hooliganism and registration of minors witnessed at various registration centres are a violation of the general electoral laws of the country as well as provisions of the Election 2008 Political Parties Code of Conduct code."

Rev. Deegbe called on civic actors to play their advocacy role to ensure that political parties adhered to the code which they all participated in drafting and signing.

The Election 2008 Code of Conduct seeks to regulate the operations of political parties contesting this year's election with particular focus on the democratic imperatives, campaigning procedure, out-of-campaign activities, elections, enforcement and implementation of guidelines and direct the mode of political activities to ensure decorum before, during and after the December polls.

The Code enjoins parties to safeguard the integrity of the electoral process and ensure absolute transparency and honesty before, during and after the elections.

The political parties are also obligated to actively discourage members from engaging in multiple voting (registration) and other forms of election malpractices - registration of minors and foreigners.

The Election 2008 Code of Conduct for political parties also forbids officials or agents of political parties to engage in confrontation or open argument with election officials at the polling stations.

The code directs that any compliant, protest or challenge relating to the process and procedures at the centres should be routed through the presiding officers of the security officers for resolution. The code enjoins all political parties, candidates, party members, agents and party workers to avoid all activities constituting electoral offences.

"No political party shall resort to the use of abusive or inflammatory language or incitement," it adds. The press conference was attended by Mr Kwadwo Sarfo-Kantanka, Deputy Chairman of the Electoral Commission in-Charge of Operations; Mrs Fanny Kumah of the National Commission for Civic Education and Brigadier Francis Agyemfra (rtd) of the IEA.

Others were Mr Henry Asante of the People's National Convention (PNC); Alhaji Alhassan Benneh, Interim Chairman of the EGLE Party; Mr John Amekah, Deputy General Secretary of the Democratic Freedom Party and Mr O. B. Amoah of the New Patriotic Party.

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