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Events on Referendum day were threats to Ghana’s democracy’CSOs observe

A 15-member Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) election observer monitoring team, commissioned by NORSAAC a gender and governance nongovernmental organization, has described events at the just ended referendum on the creation of the new regions as a threat to Ghana’s democracy.

The CSOs observer team in rating the referendum didn’t mince words when it said that the referendum was characterized by great flaws and violation of electoral rules with impunity.

It rated the election high in terms of peace but doubted its fairness and credibility. The  CSOs expressed shock at the conduct and composure of public officials, electoral officials, the security and the traditional authority who they accused of making it too scary for citizens to attempt opposing the process.

This, the observer team noted resulted in democracy being subjected to attacks. “If what was observed is replicated in the general election in 2020, Ghana’s credibility in the international world will be greatly affected,” the CSOs noted.

The team which visited 34 polling stations in seven districts across the two proposed regions indicated that about 90% of electoral Commission officers left their jobs and openly violated electoral laws by campaigning and aiding citizens to vote YES.

The districts include Central Gonja, West Gonja, North Gonja And Sawla-Tuna-Kalba districts in the proposed Savannah region.

Others are West Mamprusi Municipality, East Mamprusi And the  Chereponi district of the proposed North Eastern region.

The people in the Savannah enclave of the Northern Region voted YES for the creation of the new Savannah Region.

A total of 206,350 people voted YES in the referendum, representing 99.7 percent of valid votes cast while 647 people voted NO, representing 0.3 percent out of the total 207,343 votes cast. A total of 346 votes were rejected.

A total of 205,121 voted YES in favour of the creation of the new North East Region, representing 99.8 percent of the total valid votes cast while 447 voted NO.

Out of the total 205,804 votes cast, 236 were rejected and 205,568 were deemed valid. But the team preliminary findings also observed that some security personnel detailed to police the elections compromised their professionalism.

The electoral officers the observer team noted were not only spotted in campaigning for the YES but also openly commanding people to go and vote for Yellow which represents YES.

Security at the polling stations

Every polling station the observer team noted had security presence but some security, especially those that were natives were spotted campaigning for YES. Some security for instance in the West Gonja District were spotted patrolling in YES branded pick-up.

It is shameful to report that ministers of state and district chief executives were spotted in campaign attires casting their vote with huge followers in “VOTE YES “ attires.

The findings also observed that, there was deliberate setting up of voting screens for people to tell how voting citizens voted. NORSAAC-CSOs observer team said they spotted a presiding officer himself in one of the queues telling people to vote YES arguing that their votes will eventually translate into development and jobs for their children.

These, the CSOs say is worrying and warned that such unprofessional behaviors among EC officials and other key stakeholders could lead to serious problems in 2020 general elections.

Presenting the Preliminary findings to the media today, Executive Director of the NORSAAC, Mr. Alhassan Mohammed Awal expressed his disappointment at ministers of state, Metropolitan, Municipal and district chief executives for their YES campaign attires when they were casting their votes.

“It is shameful to report that ministers of state and district chief executives were spotted in campaign attires casting their votes with huge followers in “VOTE YES “ attires,” he said

He continued: “These public officials were also spotted actively campaigning at the polling stations during the electoral officers to properly ensure that the people one for  YES.”

Polling Agents 

About 80% of the polling stations had only agents for YES while some polling stations had no agents at all which was unusual in any elections in Ghana, the observed team noted.

Interestingly, the few stations with agents for NO, the team said were spotted escorting people to the booth and thumb printing “YES” for them.

In some polling stations in the Sawla-Tuna-Kalba district it was an abomination to mention NO or asking who the NO agent was, they added.


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