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Regional News of Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Group calls for transparent referendum on creation of new regions

A non-political group calling itself the One Volta Group has urged government, the Electoral Commission and the Ghana Police Service to ensure that the soon to be held referendum in connection to the creation of the Oti Region is transparent, free and fair.

The group in a press release signed and addressed to the three entities, argued that, it has evidence of some persons being intimidated because of their opposition to the creation of the new region.

This, the group says will have serious implications on the country’s stability if not properly addressed and further occurrences prevented.

Listing some recommendations, the One Volta Group further urged government to open up the democratic space in the area for all registered voters to exercise their democratic rights at the Yes or NO campaign and at the polls on December 27.

It is also calling on the International Community and Development Partners, Peer Civil Society and Advocacy Organizations such as CDD, CODEO, Imani Centre, Ghana Peace Council, National House of Chiefs, Christian Council of Ghana, National Chief Imam’s office and the people of Ghana to take particular interest in the referendum.

Find the full release below:

ONE VOLTA GROUP CAUTIONS GOVERNMENT, EC & POLICE TO CONDUCT A FAIR REFERENDUM IN OTI

The One Volta Group wishes to draw the attention of Ghana Government and the entire public to the following developments in connection with the Government goal of creating a new “Oti Region” from the northern part of the existing Volta Region.



We have over the past few months, come across clear evidence of intimidation of opponents of the proposed Oti Region, and interference in the process to the advantage of proponents of Oti Region. Some of them are listed below:

• In early September 2018, a Reverend Minister was asked to leave Jasikan (a provisional town in the proposed Oti Region). This was because he preached against the creation of Oti. Nana Osei Boakye, (the acting Chief; Gyasehene of Jasikan) through the E. P. Church asked the Reverend Minister to relinquish his position because of the grievous nature of the offence. The Gyasehene added that the action taken would promote peace and allow the proposed creation of the Oti Region to proceed without hindrance.

• We were also informed that one Mr. John Collins Denutsui who became stranded at Dambai (also in the proposed Oti Region) was humiliated, tortured and almost lynched when it became apparent that he was an anti-Oti sympathizer. It took the timely intervention of Torgbe Dordoe, the Ewe Chief of Chonke Traditional Area to prevent a fatal outcome.

• A caller on a “Radio Talk Show” in the area was recorded to have asked indigenes of the area to report anti-Oti sympathizers to the area traditional leaders for appropriate remediation to be taken (audio available).

• Prior to these developments, a delegation sent by Togbe Gabusu (the Paramount Chief of Hohoe) to meet the Justice Brobbey Commission at Nsuta, Buem (also in the proposed Oti Region). The delegation was sent to Nsuta to advocate the inclusion of Hohoe Municipality in the proposed Oti Region.

Togbe Gabusu, in our view, saw that the inclusion of Hohoe Municipality, being predominantly an Ewe speaking area, as necessary to address the perceived ethnic partition currently taking place. The delegation was assaulted in the presence of the Commission and others (including traditional and past political leaders). The Ghana Police Service intervened in this instance.

*As the referendum draws near, an uptick in acts of brazen lawlessness and intimidation is being recorded all over the Oti enclave. In the past few days, several individuals have either been assaulted or arrested by the police merely on suspicion of harboring anti-Oti sentiments.

Three men were arrested by the police in Katanga in Krachie over the weekend merely because they attempted to discuss the merits of the division of the Volta Region with their fellow citizens. In the past 24 hours One Volta Group educators were assaulted in Biakoye and only managed to escape unharmed due to the quick thinking of a driver. Even a revered chief was threatened by the Regional Commander of the Ghana Police when he visited him to request security for One Volta Group’s educators. In many communities in the Oti enclave, especially in the Krachie area, many citizens are living in fear as they have been informed that they would be followed into the voting booth just to ensure that they do not cast a No vote.

They risk bodily harm or death, including having their tongues cut or limbs chopped off if they are suspected of voting No. These threats of intimidation are being directed especially against Ewes living in the Oti enclave who are considered as ‘settlers’.

• Available evidence suggests that the Ghana Government, instead of playing the role of a referee or a neutral arbiter between the Yes and No sides, has assumed the role of benefactor and campaigner for the proponents of Oti region. As the chief custodian of Ghana’s democratic institutions, the Ghana Government’s stance in this matter is myopic and anti-democratic, to say the least. Through such blatant placement of its thumb on the scale in the campaign toward the referendum, the Ghana Government has failed to see and appreciate the big picture.

We the One Volta Group see the big picture. We see ethnic divisions escalating as a consequence of all these developments. We don’t wish to sound alarm bells but we see developments that remind us of the embryonic stages of the ethnic cleansing of Rwanda in 1994. Other prominent Ghanaians both within and outside the Volta Region have unfortunately expressed similar sentiments.

We call on the Government to take stock of all these and take appropriate action as the panacea for development is not the creation of additional regions. The peaceful co-existence among Ghana’s ethnic groups should not be sacrificed for political expediency.



Resolution

In furtherance of the peace, security, order and lawful exercise of the freedoms guaranteed us by the Constitution of Ghana, We the One Volta Group issue the following resolutions:
• We demand from the Ghana Government and its election-organizing agencies (particularly the Electoral Commission) to ensure and hold a transparent, free and fair voting during the referendum with no eligible voters disenfranchised.

• We hold the Government of Ghana and its relevant Agencies and appointed officers such as the Electoral Commission, BNI, NCCE, Law Enforcement Agencies especially the Ghana Police, Minister of Interior, Inspector General of Police, responsible for ensuring electoral integrity and a truly credible, transparent, free and fair referendum. We also hold these entities accountable for law, order and the protection of all those who will want to participate in the referendum, particularly those who wish to mount a ‘No’ campaign in the period leading up to the referendum, as is their democratic right.

• We draw the attention of the International Community and Development Partners, Peer Civil Society and Advocacy Organizations such as CDD, CODEO, Imani Centre, Ghana Peace Council, National House of Chiefs, Christian Council of Ghana, National Chief Imam’s office, Christian, Muslim and Traditional leaders fraternity, Media Houses, and the people of Ghana to take particular interest in the up-coming referendum since fallouts from domestic elections have serious implications for national stability.

• One Volta Group is calling for the opening up of the democratic space in these areas for all registered voters to exercise their democratic rights at the Yes or NO campaign and at the polls on 27th December.

• Finally, One Volta Group cautions the Ghana Police that they have a constitutional mandate to grant free and even-handed protection to all Ghanaians who wish to participate in the process leading up to the casting of votes, including freedom to freely assemble, educate and campaign wherever they deem necessary. The Police MUST resist the incentive to serve as organs of the Ghana Government and the pro-Oti camp.

We wish to extend Peace and Good Luck to all Chiefs and people and all registered voters of the proposed Oti region and hope that we shall remain tolerant, peaceful and united in pursuit of the desired Development after the referendum.

One Volta Group, Washington

SIGNED

Peter N. Abotchie

Julius Badu

Victor Doe

Grant Ayayee (PRO)

Kossi Nutekpor (Chairman)