Rigged referendum exposes plot to rig 2020 polls in favour of NPP - NDC | General News 2019-01-04
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General News of Friday, 4 January 2019

Source: rainbowradioonline.com

Rigged referendum exposes plot to rig 2020 polls in favour of NPP - NDC

The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) says it is alarmed by the various electoral violations that characterised the recent referendum held towards the creation of the six new regions.

The party says although it had in its manifesto plans to create five regions and supported the creation, the electoral violations were unfortunate and only confirms an attempt to have the 2020 polls rigged in favour of the ruling New Patriotic Party.

According to the NDC, the EC boss Mrs Jean Mensa lacks credibility and the NDC have been justified in accusing her of bias and loyalty to the NPP.

“The abysmal and fraudulent conduct of the referenda clearly vindicates our position. This represents a clear and present danger for the future of this country especially as the 2020 elections approach.

The non-partisan nature of the referenda and the convergence of interests in the creation of the regions may have limited and tampered the response of various stakeholders to the manipulation and fraud by EC officials.

It goes without mention, that if such incidents were to be repeated in the 2020 polls, it would result in total chaos and anarchy from which our country may not recover, given the very high stakes that would be at play.

The partisan posturing and glaring incompetence of Jean Mensah and the current leadership of the Electoral Commission leads us to believe that, left unchecked, the EC will operate as an appendage of the Executive led by President Akufo-Addo who has actively sought to populate independent arms of government with relatives and partisan elements in order to totally capture the state for his political benefit.

READ THE PORTION OF THE STATEMENT ON THE REFERENDUM

STATEMENT ON THE CONDUCT OF REFERENDA ON THE CREATION OF SIX NEW
REGIONS AND MATTERS ARISING:


Ladies and Gentlemen of the press,

Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Representatives of Civil Society Groups,

On behalf of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), I extend to you New Year greetings.

It is our hope that we will in the coming years deepen our bonds of cooperation for the good of Ghana.

The purpose of this press conference is to share with you some concerns over the conduct of the just-ended referenda on the creation of six new regions, some of which are already in the public domain.

Let me state from the onset that in the NDC 2016 manifesto, we made a pledge to create five additional regions as part of our commitment to ensuring equitable development of all parts of the country. Though the NDC was denied the people’s mandate, we persisted in the commitment by making available a trove of our party’s resources to support the referenda.

Be that as it may, we respect the central principle which guided the need for the referenda.

We congratulate all our brothers and sisters from the Oti, North East, Savannah, Ahafo, Bono East and Western North regions on attaining regional status. We urge government to prioritize the needs of the newly created regions to give practical meaning to the outcome of the referenda

Ladies and gentlemen,

Had we won the 2016 elections, we would have taken the necessary steps towards achieving that objective of creating the five regions as indicated in our manifesto. We would have done so in full compliance with the law and with fairness and transparency as the guiding principles.

We believe earnestly that the processes leading up to such an exercise must comply with acceptable standards and referenda held for that purpose, must also be in conformity with democratic and legal tenets.

In this respect, we have been extremely alarmed at the brazen violation of our electoral laws and the general vandalization of due process and the principle of fairness that should govern the conduct of any credible election.

We have been particularly shocked at the level of incompetence and dereliction of duty exhibited by the Electoral Commission under the leadership of Jean Mensah in the conduct of the just ended referenda.
Compelling evidence has emerged showing clear electoral malpractices and shocking abuse of the process with the active participation and involvement of Election officials.

Many Ghanaians have seen the viral video footage showing multiple voting by Electoral Commission officials themselves and others obviously recruited for the purpose. It is unthinkable that persons in whom we have reposed our trust and confidence-the very stewards of our democracy- would act in ways that bring the whole exercise into disrepute and undermine the public trust in the electoral process.

In addition to the video footage and several reports of wrongdoing by the EC during the conduct of the polls, we have noted a report by the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) in which they highlight grave violations of our electoral laws.

The CODEO report confirms reports of voter turn-out which can only be described as incredulous.

In some instances, turn-out was as high as 99.7%, which is most unlikely in any election in Ghana. This is the sort of turn-out one would expect to see in elections held in banana republics or under brutal dictators, not one held in a democratic state like Ghana.

CODEO also highlighted abnormal use of manual verification, sometimes as high as 58% of all voters at a polling station.

The Ghana Journalist Association has on its part, bitterly complained about the prevention of their members from observing the collation of results in the Oti Region referendum. We are even more appalled by statement of the Volta Regional Police Commander warning Journalists to stay away from the voting because he could not guarantee their safety. This decision by the Police institution which is expected to provide a peaceful environment for Ghanaians to go about their lawful duties is a disgrace to our democracy.

It appears to be a dress rehearsal by the Akufo-Addo government aided by the EC to manipulate voting processes for future elections for a pre-determined outcome outside of the true will of the people.

Taken together, these events make the just ended referenda, the most shambolic elections in Ghana’s recent history.

Coming on the heels of the most successful and efficient elections held in 2016, it highlights the gulf in competence, capacity and conscience between the past and current leadership of the Electoral Commission.

These events cast a deep shadow over the level of trust that should be placed in the Jean Mensah led Electoral Commission. Jean Mensah as Chairperson of the Electoral Commission and her deputies especially Dr. Eric Bossman Asare have completely bungled their first assignment in their indecent haste to impress President Akufo-Addo.

Undoubtedly, the conduct of the Electoral Commission leaves one with the impression Jean Mensah and her Deputies consider themselves NPP appointees with the same mandate as others appointed by the President and appear prepared to carry out his wishes.

They appear to have found themselves obliged to deliver mouth-watering results, irrespective of the need to ensure that lawful means and processes are used to conduct any such polls.

In return, the President has also not missed the opportunity, to sweep the glaring instances of electoral malpractices under the carpet with a hasty and unnecessary statement commending the Electoral Commission and claiming that they had “passed the first test”.

This was obviously done deliberately to draw the attention of the public away from the worrying issues CODEO and other observers had witnessed during the conduct of the poll.

It was also aimed at tying the hands of investigative bodies who may be called upon to look into the various infractions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For a man who held the country to ransom with a frivolous election petition after he had been thoroughly and resoundingly defeated in the 2012 elections, it is utterly hypocritical that President Akufo-Addo now seeks to use his office to hide gross violations of the law during the conduct of the just-ended polls.

While his petition was being heard at the Supreme Court in 2013, Jean Mensah, then Executive Director of the IEA, organized a forum on the theme;

“A Review of Ghana’s Electoral System’’ at the Capital View Hotel in Koforidua. In her invitation letters she observed that; “Ghana conducted relatively peaceful, free and fair elections in 2012.

However, there were several irregularities that marred the beauty of the nation’s efforts to consolidate her democratic gains through elections. The introduction of Biometric Verification Machines to authenticate the identity of voters proved ineffective in many polling stations.

Besides, there were several reported cases of electoral irregularities including the blatant disregard for the rule; that one cannot vote without being first verified, over-voting, discrepancies between figures and letters of recorded votes etc.”

It is an irony that the same Jean Mensah who saw the above as worrisome in respect of the outcome of the 2012 elections is satisfied with her performance in her new role as EC Chair, as far as this referendum is concerned.

It is a matter of public record that Jean Mensah’s IEA led calls and recommended that the appointment of a EC boss should be made by the President with two thirds majority approval of parliament. She argued with colleagues that the current manner of appointment enabled the president make appointments not by merit but by political loyalty.

It is also instructive to note, that Jean Mensah replaced a woman who at different times received the US Embassy’s Women of Courage Award in 2017 and was described by the US Ambassador to Ghana, Robert P. Jackson as one the most competent women ever.

The conduct of the President is very much in keeping with his extremely partisan stance on national affairs and his tendency to govern the country like a monarch instead of a democratically elected President who is accountable to the people.

Once again, he has constituted himself into a one man investigative and adjudicating body and purported to clear officials of wrongdoing despite glaring evidence to the contrary.

We note that, following the overwhelming evidence of voting malpractices, the Electoral Commission, rather belatedly, issued a statement claiming to have asked the Police CID to conduct investigations into the matter.

This supposed investigation and its outcome, if even sincere, have been pre-empted by the President’s premature praise of the Electoral Process. We are unable to see how the Police CID, headed by a woman appointed by the President under controversial circumstances, would ever carry out investigations whose outcome can run contrary to the stated position of the President.

There is precedent for this in the infamous A-Plus vs Asenso-Boakye, Abu Jinapor case.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The fraudulent conduct of the poll by the Electoral Commission further strengthens our position about the unsuitability of Jean Mensah as Chairperson of the Electoral

Commission. As noted in our statement following her appointment, she had displayed far too much bias towards the NPP in her previous role as Executive Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), to be deemed neutral enough for the sensitive position she now occupies.

Such has been Jean Mensah’s devotion to the NPP, that as Executive Director of the IEA, she pulled a report on campaign expenditure by political parties in the 2008 elections which was critical of the NPP in order to save the party’s blushes.

This brought the credibility of the IEA into question after the Ghana News Agency, which published the report proved that it had indeed been removed from the IEA website.

As EC Chair, she has not found in necessary to shed the partisan garb and consider herself the occupant of an independent office. Instead, Jean Mensah openly flaunts her ties with the NPP appointees in a manner she will never do with NDC officials.

Jean Mensah recently attended events held for NPP appointees and carried herself like one of them. The videos of Jean Mensah at lavish parties, wining and dining with NPP

members and appointees of the President is a clear manifestation that she is tied to the apron strings of President Akufo-Addo’s government.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Neutrality and impartiality are vital prerequisites for any Electoral Commission Chair and the failure of Jean Mensah to adhere to these, poses a grave threat to the sustenance of our democracy.

Jean Mensah’s conduct confirms our deeply-held belief that both Executive and Judicial powers were abused, to remove the former Chair of the EC at the behest of President Akufo-Addo, in order to install an NPP operative at the Commission to further his interests.

The abysmal and fraudulent conduct of the referenda clearly vindicates our position. This represents a clear and present danger for the future of this country especially as the 2020 elections approach.

The non-partisan nature of the referenda and the convergence of interests in the creation of the regions may have limited and tampered the response of various stakeholders to the manipulation and fraud by EC officials.

It goes without mention, that if such incidents were to be repeated in the 2020 polls, it would result in total chaos and anarchy from which our country may not recover, given the very high stakes that would be at play.

The partisan posturing and glaring incompetence of Jean Mensah and the current leadership of the Electoral Commission leads us to believe that, left unchecked ,the EC will operate as an appendage of the Executive led by President Akufo-Addo who has actively sought to populate independent arms of government with relatives and partisan elements in order to totally capture the state for his political benefit.

We wish to make clear and draw the attention of all concerned, including those in the diplomatic community and our development partners, that we in the NDC will not allow or permit the manipulation of the processes leading to the 2020 elections.

Pursuant to this, we wish to state our position on two subjects which are critical to the holding of peaceful, free and transparent elections in 2020.