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Politics of Friday, 5 March 2004

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Sierra Leone to Electoral Commission's Aid

In the wake of the controversy surrounding the inadequate number of cameras for the March 16, voters' registration exercise, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, has stated that the E.C may borrow 500 additional cameras from Sierra Leone.

The 500 cameras, he said, would however not make it possible for each polling station to be allocated a camera throughout the registration exercise.

Dr. Afari-Gyan explained in Kumasi that the 500 additional cameras would beef the total camera capacity of the E.C to 2,500, which is far below the requirements of the 21,000 polling centres in the country.

According to him, the E.C had earlier on made efforts to rent cameras from Malawi but this was not possible because the Malawian cameras were not suitable for the Ghanaian voter registration exercise.

He noted that the possibility of getting the cameras from Sierra Leone was not yet guaranteed as the Sierra Leonians themselves were presently in the voters' registration exercise.

He was however optimistic that the cameras from Sierra Leone may be accessed, considering the fact that their registration exercise was for a two-month period.

Afari-Gyan recommended that neighbouring countries pool resources together to finance electoral exercises instead of each country financing its own exercise.

On the possibility of minors and foreigners getting registered, the E.C boss said the E.C had no mechanisms in place to check it and stressed that it called for the vigilance of all Ghanaians to ensure that the right thing was done as far as the impending voters' registration exercise was concerned.

He stressed that the laws of Ghana prohibited minors and foreigners from registering or voting and that the E.C would not be able to ensure the full compliance of the law if the entire citizenry of the nation did not exercise their civil rights and responsibility.

Touching on speculations that failure to conduct the registration and have the photo taken on the same day may result in double registration, the chairman noted that it could never cause double registration because as he put it, ' a receipt will be given to each voter after registering which they will present at the stations before they are allowed to take the photographs."

He therefore urged the public to take very good care of their receipts till the scheduled date for the photograph. 'Nobody will be permitted to take the photograph without the receipt' he stressed.

The chairman asserted the need for political parties and all Ghanaians to contact the E.C on issues they did not understand concerning the registration, instead of fabricating stories and jumping to conclusions.