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Politics of Wednesday, 25 October 2006

Source: Statesman

NPP retains Offinso South seat

EVIDENCE of exit polls conducted by The Statesman in 40 of the 98 polling stations in Offinso South suggests that the ruling New Patriotic Party has retained the seat, with a landslide, scoring its first by-election win in four so far conducted since President John Agyekum Kufuor’s second term in office.

This was also supported by initial results from some polling stations, which suggested that the NPP was on course to achieve a higher than expected victory margin.

However, the parliamentary situation remains virtually the same, with no seat being gained from an incumbent party in any of the four by-elections.

According to our Ashanti Regional correspondent, yesterday’s by-election would probably register the highest turn-out in recent years. By 3pm, most of the polling stations visited by our correspondents had registered up to 80 percent turn-out.

The constituency has some 45,523 registered voters. But, less than the 37,946 who voted in December were expected to cast their vote yesterday.

The four candidates were the ruling party’s Owusu Achaw Duah, Barbara Serwaa Asamoah of the National Democratic Congress, Doris Appiah of the Democratic People’s Party and Emmanuel Kwasi Addai, Independent.

Our exit poll results suggest that the Dr Achaw Duah (pictured top left) retains the seat for the NPP with at least 73 percent of the popular vote, which translates into a 21 percentage point increase on the 2004 election win for Kwabena Sarfo, whose death caused this by-election.

By 8:30pm, the Electoral Commission had confirmed the results of 86 of the 98 polling stations. The NPP candidate was far ahead with 18,218 votes. The NDC candidate was second with 7,751 votes.

With about half of the results counted, the NPP candidate was set to beat his party’s December 2000 record, possibly ending up with as much as 76 percent of the votes, with the NDC taking about 22 percent.

Also, for example, our pollsters found, from evidence of the exit poll, that the NPP candidate was able to split the NDC votes in the opposition party’s traditional strongholds such as Kayera and Kokote.

In areas such as Maase, and polling stations like Amoawi Zongo, Wiafe Akenten, in the old parts of Offinso, and the Offinsohene’s Palace, the NPP is expected to run away on a landslide, some as high 99 percent.

Confirmed results for Amoawi Zongo polling station, where the NPP candidate hails from, he got 900 votes, leaving the NDC candidate far behind with 7 votes. Also at Damanya Akenteng polling station, Dr Achaw Duah received 457 ballots in his favour, with Ms Asamoah of the NDC coming second with 25 votes.

Even in villages near NDC’s stronghold Kokote, when voters were asked which way they voted, a high majority of those who spoke mentioned NPP. Dr Achaw Duah’s case could not have been hurt by the timely decision by the District Assembly to hook up those villages to the national grid recently.

After boycotting the 1992 parliamentary elections, Offinso South has been won by the NPP in every election since.

In 1996, the NPP’s Francis Kwasi Buor got 17,077 (59.8%), the NDC’s Akuoko Adomako came a distant second with 9,258 (32.4%). Jones Wiafe Akenteng of the PNC came third with 1,852 (6.5%). The total votes cast in 1996 was 28,550. In 2000, Kwabena Sarfo retained the seat for the NPP with a massive landslide of 21,693 (71.1%). NDC’s Butah K Adunkwa trailed 8,257 (27.1%). The CPP candidate, Kuting A Kwasi followed with 250 (0.8%). Total votes cast then numbered 31,001

The NPP again won in 2004 with the incumbent, whose victory margin of 2000 was cut by about 19 percentage points.

Yesterday’s imminent victory margin appears to have redressed that situation, firmly reaffirming the dominance of the NPP in the area.

The two big parties sent all their big guns to the area. If this performance is anything to go by, then the voter apathy that hit the ruling party in the last three previous by-elections could be a thing of the past.

Even though the district assembly elections are ostensibly and constitutionally non-partisan, some study reports seen by The Statesman indicate that candidates with clear sympathies for the NPP performed far better than those with leaning towards the NDC. Even in areas such as Kete-Krachi in the Volta Region, and several towns in the Upper West and Upper East Regions, NPP sympathisers outshone their NDC counterparts.

What appears very clear from these results are that the NPP appears to be re-gaining in strength, after the 2005 problems, a year described by commentators as President Kufuor’s annus horibilis.