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Politics of Saturday, 28 November 2015

Source: GNA

CODEO challenges EC to crack the whip

The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has challenged the Electoral Commission (EC) to crack the whip on individuals as well as political parties who intrude in the District Level Election (DLE) process.

CODEO explained that during the recent DLE, there was both covert and overt intrusion of political parties in the election process, either by supporting a candidate or a candidate associating him/herself with a political party.

“The intrusion of political parties in the electoral process is a direct violation of the constitutional provision of the non-partisanship of the DLE, and the EC must apply the law,” CODEO stated in paper presented at a review workshop on the 2014/15 DLE it organised at Akosombo for stakeholders.

The Stakeholders review workshop forms part of CODEO’s post 2014/15 review activities with the view of drawing lessons from the conduct of the elections to help improve the conduct of future elections.

It was also to help enhance the participation of marginalised groups and the citizenry in general in local level elections and local governance.

Presenting a review of Citizens Interventions in the 2014/2015 DLE, Mr Albert Kofi Arhin, CODEO National Coordinator, commended the security agencies for professionally conducting themselves to respond to the few election-related incidents and disruptions recorded.

He said the conduct of the security agencies during the DLE served as pointers and lessons to inform their preparations towards 2016 general elections.

Mr Arhin noted that electoral stakeholders led by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) needed to engage in an extensive public sensitization and education on the local governance concept.

“CODEO believes that the consistent low voter turnout and lack of interest in the DLE has implications for effective grassroots participation and inclusive development.

“Thus, there is the need to do a holistic assessment to find out the reasons for the low patronage, and advance solutions to the problem,” he said.

CODEO entreats the EC to review its performance on Election Day, and take a critical look at the few challenges recorded during polling, particularly those relating; to arrivals of polling officials/materials; setting up of polls and malfunctioning of biometric devices.

“This is to prevent similar occurrences in the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections,” Mr Arhin noted.

On critical incidents during the 2014/15 DLE, Mr Arhin said CODEO Stationary Observers reported seeing uniformed security personnel in only 78 per cent of the polling stations, and that implies that in about two out of 10 polling stations there was no uniformed security personnel.

CODEO Observers reported seeing thugs invading some polling centres with the aim of either preventing voters from casting their ballots or snatching ballot boxes.

He said the CODEO Observers also noticed that some voters were not allowed to vote because their names did not appear in the voters’ register; whilst in some instances old voter’s registers were sent to some polling stations, which delayed voting for hours until they were replaced with the current voters’ registers.

He said the observers also noticed malfunctioning devices leading to the suspension of voting for some time in some areas such as Saeedia Islamic Primary school polling station in the Sagado Electoral area in the Bawku Municipality in the Upper East region.

Some voters were disenfranchised as they could not be verified by the biometric verification machines, he noted.

He explained that CODEO comprehensively observed the three phases of the 2014/2015 District Level Elections spanning from; Pre-Election Environment Observation; Election Day Observation; and Post-Election Environment Observation.

He said the media paid little concern to public awareness campaign for the DLE as compared to national elections; whilst some aspirants engaged in promise sprees, including the construction of toilets, markets and roads, the provision of goods and portable drinking water and street lights.

“This is a clear indication of their limited knowledge of the local governance concept,” Mr Arhin noted.

He said despite reports of few faceless individuals who were engaged in the act of destroying posters of some other aspirants, the pre-election environment was peaceful and violence-free.

On key findings, the CODEO report indicates that 18 per cent of polling stations under observation did not open on time; uniformed security personnel were spotted in 78 per cent of the polling stations.

Ninety-three per cent of the polling stations were accessible to persons with disability as well as the elderly; all polling stations had biometric verification machines at the time of setup.

During the voting process, voters’ biometric registration information was verified in all polling stations.

However, CODEO Stationary Observers reported the malfunctioning of biometric verification machines at some point in time in about 8 per cent of the polling stations.

In 94 per cent of the polling stations, there was no reported case of harassment or intimidation of voters or polling officials.

CODEO Stationary Observers reported that in 56 per cent of the polling stations, no one was in the queue at the close of polls at 1700 hours.

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