Three presidential candidates in the impending general elections in December believe the elections will not be free and fair.
The three flagbearers, Dr. Edward Nasigre Mahama of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings of the National Democratic Party (NDP) and Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), believe the register for the elections is bloated and several efforts to draw the attention of the Electoral Commission (EC) have proved futile.
A statement signed by the three flagbearers and copied to Onua FM’s Ghana Dadwene said: “We the presidential candidates of the Progressive People’s Party, the People’s National Convention and the National Democratic Party wish to put on public record that the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary elections will not be free and fair.
“Free and fair elections can take place when certain conditions are met. It is not limited to the electorates queuing up on 7th December, 2106, casting a ballot and for a person to be declared a winner.”
PNC flagbearer Dr. Mahama told Onua FM’s Ghana Dadwene that even his disqualification was a form of frustration by the EC and a calculated attempt by the EC not to have free and fair elections.
Below is the full statement from the three flagbearers:
STATEMENT ABOUT THE 7 DECEMBER 2017 ELECTIONS BY PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES OF THE NDP, PNC AND PPP
We the presidential candidates of the Progressive People’s Party, the People’s National Convention and the National Democratic Party wish to put on public record that the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary elections will not be free and fair. Free and fair elections can take place when certain conditions are met. It is not limited to the electorates queuing up on 7th December, 2106, casting a ballot and for a person to be declared a winner.
We make this point strongly believing that we have a responsibility as leaders of these three political parties to bring into sharp focus a number of issues that have happened that defeat our expectation or aspiration as a country to hold free and fair elections. Free and fair elections do not happen on voting days. They happen only if a number of things are in place and are guaranteed for the benefit of the all the players.
First of all political parties and candidates must be given a fair opportunity to campaign and send their messages to the electorates for informed choices to be made. The three of us have had a terrible experience of spending close to six weeks in court litigating against the unnecessary attempted disqualification of our candidature as part of a deliberate scheme to frustrate our efforts in this election. This has brought us untold hardships financially, emotionally and taken energy and precious time from our campaigns.
The Electoral Commission (EC) decided to utilize the regulations guiding the conduct of the 2016 elections as an oppressive tool to punish and deny us equal opportunity to campaign during the critical times of the campaign season. If a party in a competition loses six weeks of campaign time whilst spending on legal fees that where not budgeted for but occasioned by a frivolous scheme designed to frustrate and deny us fair opportunity to participate in the elections, how can anyone say that this election is and will be free and fair?
Secondly, we would expect under normal circumstances that, the Electoral Commission will be a fair and impartial referee whose only interest would be to comply with the provisions of the CI 94 which conduct will ensure certainty and predictability in the processes leading up to the elections. As we speak, the EC has been inconsistent in the supply of information to the political parties on the number of voters registered for the special voting exercise. The new allegation that the Ghana Police Service is adding more names to the special list, long after the deadline passed is disturbing to say the least. The question is which other groups of people have been allowed to add to the list after the deadline?
The EC has clearly disregarded the relevant portions of CI94 (regulation 23) to have entertained the latest applications from the Police Service. If the rules of the game can be twisted and turned by the referee as and when it pleases, can we then say that the elections will be free and fair when we do not know what illegal steps will be taken in the process leading up to the elections? Some of our parliamentary candidates have been disqualified without due process. We are also aware that the EC chair has announced the intention to recount the ballots depending on some circumstances which are not backed by law. We believe this is another tool to be deployed in favour of particular candidate if the results do not go in his favour. This attempt to change the results through a purported recounting is a recipe for chaos and civil disobedience.
Thirdly, this election has witnessed the clearest ever abuse of incumbency on the part of the NDC and the use the State’s security agencies and party thugs to intimidate other opponents. A free and fair election environment will require an atmosphere of fairness in the application of the EC’s laws on political party funding. The EC has gone to sleep and allowed the NDC to use state funds to buy votes without questioning them. More so, the state’s security apparatus has been used to harass and intimidate opponents of the ruling government.
We have shown resilience in the face of these problems and have demonstrated leadership in controlling our supporters to do their best possible to participate in this process of a semblance of an election. But more importantly, we are placing on record for the civil society, the National Peace Council, the CODEO and the international community to take steps to reverse these disturbing trends so that we can have proper free and fair elections in the future since free and fair elections for 7th December 2016 have escaped us.
Edward Nasigrie Mahama
Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings
Papa Kwesi Nduom
24 November 2016