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A last-gasp injunction puts referendum on new regions in limbo

File photo of a lady voting in the December 2016 general elections

Two voters in the proposed Oti Region have filed a last-minute application at the Human Rights Court in Accra to stop the Electoral Commission from going ahead to conduct or supervise Thursday’s referendum on the creation of new regions.

The two, Gabriel Aziaglo and Dan Louis Nikabo in Kadjebi from Kadjebi in the Volta Region are alleging breaches of their fundamental human rights to vote in the referendum as well as illegality on the part of the EC in in its implementation of the 2018 regulations on the referendum .

Documents filed at the Court Registry Monday claimed the EC has failed to publish in the gazette the list of the polling stations or places designated as polling stations for the purposes of the referendum.

This, the applications claim “violates” their right to vote and thus want the Court to stop the conduct of the December 27 referendum on the creation of six new regions.

In the substantive suit also filed today, the applicants are seeking a declaration that any list of polling stations given which may have circulated from the EC to any interested group is unlawful and null for lack of gazette.

“A declaration that any discretion purported to be exercised by the EC by gazzeting the list within a day or two or even a week is unreasonable, capricious and actuated by lack of candour,” they added.

They thus want the Court to order the EC to gazette the list of polling stations for the referendum in compliance with its own regulations. The applicants want the court order the EC to postpone the referendum until it complies with the regulation.

Arguments

According to the applicants, the Constitutional Instrument mandates the EC to publish in the gazette, for purposes of official notice, the places designated by the EC as polling stations in the various districts across the proposed regions for the purposes of the referendum.

They said their checks at the Assembly press where the gazette of the list of polling stations ought to be made, showed that “no such notice had been given only days to [the] referendum”

They hold that their right to vote includes being given notice of the polling stations at which they must cast their ballot for or against the referendum question of ‘Yes’ or ‘No’.

The publication of the gazette is to ensure that the applicants are aware of the number of polling stations and to assign polling agents and counting officers, as well as to prevent unauthorised polling stations from springing up at the blindside of the interested group so that the right to monitor and ensure transparent polls is not defeated, the argued.

“That this requirement is fundamental and non-derogable condition precedent for the conduct of the polls,” they said in their suit.

According to them, the persons entitled to vote in the enclave proposed Oti Region have the right to appoint a polling agent and a counting officer or a polling agent to the designated polling stations on the polling day.

“…the absence of polling agents and counting officers on behalf of an interested group because the interested group was not afforded a reasonable opportunity to designate polling and counting agents for each of the polling stations amounts to unfair treatment and a breach of their right to vote since multiple voting and impersonation when undetected will diminish the quality and weigh of applicants’ one vote,” they argued.

According to them, on December 20, they caused their lawyer to write to inform the EC of their concerns and gave the EC 24 hours take immediate steps to remedy same by “publishing the list of polling stations in the gazette even if it means postponing the polls from 27th December 2018”.

By Stephen Kwabena Effah|3news.com|Ghana

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