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Placing armed civilians at polling stations in December a very bad idea


I have always belabored the point that if political violence breaks out in December, the two major parties, the NPP and NDC, should be held wholly responsible.

The smaller parties, after all, have essentially been defanged by the EC. Broken down and diminished with the recent mass disqualification of their presidential candidates, they pose less of a threat to our democracy than the “big boys” who continue to give us reasons to be wary and suspect of their intentions and commitment to tranquil elections.

The hot political rhetoric has not been tempered down, nor minimized; if anything, it has been racheted up, increased to levels that are disconcerting. But that has not prevented the two presidential candidates from repeatedly and consistently hammering it home that political violence has no place in our democracy and calling on their followers not to engage in acts that might undermine the integrity of the elections and throw the nation into chaos.

Unfortunately some of their surrogates are not reading from the same page; they are doing the exact opposite, inciting violence with incendiary statements. The surrogates are busy sowing seeds of doubt in the minds of citizens about the potential unfairness of the elections, and the competence of our court system to act as the final arbiter in the event of an election deadlock.

Some of them are even calling for armed civilians to be posted at various polling stations in the northern region to ensure that no underhandedness—-stealing and stuffing of ballot boxes—-takes place.

At a campaign stop in Savelugu over the weekend, the ebullient chairman of the northern region branch of the NPP remarked that this time around his party would not stand idly by and watch electoral victory snatched from its hands, mimicking what alleged happened in 2008 and 2012.

To this end, he said the party was going to deploy armed civilians to keep watch over polling stations all in the region. Whoa!!!!! this coming from a leading member of a major political party should have sent shock waves around the country. But it barely caused a ripple across the political landscape.

What is befuddling was the stony silence that greeted his remarks, made it must be pointed out, in the presence of some of the party’s heavyweights, the vice presidential candidate and others. They neither condemned or disowned the chairman’s remarks. Instead, they cheered. Party loyalty at work here, I presume.

The chairman’s utterly absurd remarks amount to usurping the role of our security forces and questioning their efficiency and ability in maintaining peace and order.  It should be recalled that it wasn’t too long ago that the northern regional police command assured residents of the region that it has “everything under control” which taken literally meant, it was fully prepared to ensure that violence would not mar the elections. I wholeheartedly trust our security agencies to do due diligence and safeguard our elections.

The chairman’s threat is a dangerous gambit, in addition to being a wrong concept and an affront to our democracy. Ghanaians, our polling agents especially, have proven over the years that they are capable of conducting elections efficiently, and crucially, in an atmosphere of peace and serenity.

Need I remind the chairman that no armed civilians are needed anywhere near polling stations. Their presence could spark retaliatory show of force by the NDC, subsequently plunging the north into unmitigated violence.

Moreover, the presence of armed civilians at polling stations defeats the very purpose of free and fair elections. Voters will be intimidated and deprived from casting their ballots for the candidates of their choice.





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