The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has questioned the commitment of the Electoral Commission and the Ghana Police Service in the Upper East Region towards a fair process in the July 7 by-election in the Talensi Constituency.
The party is particularly unhappy with the conduct of the Electoral Commission (EC) and the Police in the Upper East Region.
The NPP’s First Vice Chairman, Freddie Blay, says a request made to the Electoral Commission (EC) for a list of names of election officials barely three days to the by-election has not been granted.
Freddie Blay says rumours that over 100 individuals from an unnamed political party would be planted to officiate the by-election makes the EC’s inability to provide the party with a list of its election officials suspicious.
He was however hopeful that a planned meeting later Saturday between the EC and political party representatives on the matter would address the situation and remove suspicions of a deliberate attempt to frustrate the NPP’s chances of winning the election.
Earlier the NPP held an emergency press conference in the Upper East Region where they raised many other issues with the two institutions.
Read below the full release from the NPP.
NPP EMERGENCY PRESS CONFERENCE ON EC, POLICE AND TALENSI BY-ELECTION
READ BY FREDDY BLAY, 1ST VICE CHAIRMAN
SATURDAY, JULY 4, 2015
Good morning, my friends in the media, we are most grateful to you for showing up for this news conference at such short notice and on a Saturday, as well. As you know, next Tuesday is the Talensi by-election, which has been occasioned by the elevation of the NPP Member of Parliament, Mr Robert Nachinab Doameng Mosore, as the Paramount Chief for Talensi, who is now Tongo Rana Kubilsong Nalebegtan.
As such all political parties are here in their numbers to campaign for their various candidates. There are eight candidates contesting and our candidate, who is the last on the ballot paper, is Thomas Duanab Wuni, aka Homeboy.
But, we called you here to share with the general public, through you, two critical areas of concern to us, regarding Tuesday’s by-election. These are:
(1) what we see to be clear breaches of the electoral laws of the country by the Electoral Commission and
(2) arbitrary moves by the Regional Police Command, under the leadership of DCOP Simon Yaw Afeku, to frustrate and disrupt the campaign of the NPP and to the apparent advantage of the ruling National Democratic Congress.
CONCERNS WITH THE EC
It appears the EC has learned very little. It continues to do bad things with our electoral process.
The Tuesday by-election will take place in 74 polling stations across the Talensi constituency. Yet, as at this morning, repeated formal demands from the NPP for the names of the EC officials to conduct the polls, in particular, presiding officers and polling assistants have not been met. Two days ago, when we, again, wrote to the District Electoral Officer for the list, our request was denied, and at that time there was also no notice of the list anywhere to be found for the benefit of the Talensi electorate as demanded by the law.
Regulation 17 (6) of C.I. 75 states:
“The Commission shall
(a) publish at the District Office of the Commission the names of persons it proposes to appoint as Presiding Officers and Polling Assistance not later than ten days before an election.
(b) Furnish a copy of the published names to a political party which requests for it.”
Even yesterday, again, our request to the District EC for a copy of the list was not met.
In Regulation 17 (7) the law gives a political party or any eligible voter the right to object to the appointment of any of the above election officials and to do so “within three days after the names of the proposed officials have been published.”
Furthermore, under Regulation 17 (9), the law places a limit on the period within which such an objection may be raised. It states, “An objection raised against the appointment of an election official shall not be entertained if the objection is made within seven days to an election.”
Today, ladies and gentlemen, is July 4, three days before polling day and yet the list of election officials have not been made public. It remains a heavily guarded state secret. Moreover, even if it is made public immediately after this news conference, no party or person will be entitled to object to any of the names, even if it becomes established that such and such persons are known card bearing members of a political party.
Another related difficulty we have is to do with the recruitment exercise for those same temporary staff, numbering in their hundreds, for this by-election. The entire exercise took place without any transparency whatsoever. We find it most disturbing that after all the difficulties that were encountered and exposed in the 2012 general elections and election petition, the EC appears to be repeating the same mistakes that affect the integrity of public polls.
In 2012 the EC took a strange decision to move away from its usual practice of recruiting mainly teachers as temporary election officers for polling day. Instead, they were allegations of known cadres and sympathizers of the NDC handpicked to serve as election officials. Today, our intelligence is that the EC is once again working clandestinely with the NDC to unlawfully favour the ruling party.
We wish to use this platform to send a strong message out there that the NPP does not intend to be bitten again and that we will protect the mandate of the people diligently.
We have also picked up more disturbing information that attempts are being made to transfer up to 3,000 voters from other constituencies and even Regions to Talensi to vote this Tuesday. We wish to remind the EC that, for all practical purposes, the electoral laws do not permit for a transfer of voters.
This is because under Regulation 20 (3) (b) of C.I. 75 an application to transfer one’s vote from one constituency to another “shall be made not less than forty-two (42) days before election day to the constituency where the applicant resides where the application relates to voting.”
The same 42-day rule applies to voting by proxy, making it also impossible for this by-election.
After last year’s limited registration exercise, the NPP sent letters to the EC for copies (both in CSV and PDF formats) of the updated even if discredited voters’ register. Up to date, the EC has categorically refused to meet this demand.
We wish to remind the EC that it printed ballot papers for this by-election based on a specific number of voters in the Talensi constituency that it provided to the Party and this number was 39,534 voters. We do not expect even one name more or less on the register to be used on Tuesday. We expect a total voter population of 39,534.
We have also picked up reliable information that the EC intends to allow voters whose fingerprints “fail” to be captured by the Biometric Verification Device (BVD) to vote without biometric verification. We wish to remind the EC and all its officials on polling day that Regulation 30 (2) of C.I. 75, which states that “The voter shall go through a biometric verification process” is still fully in force. This means, the No Verification No Vote rule still stands and our agents will ensure it is made to work.
What we cannot effectively control, however, is the impunity with which the NDC is abusing The Representation of the People Law (PNDC Law 284), especially Section 20, which makes it a criminal offence, attempts to win an electoral favour through bribery, for example. The vulgarity with which the NDC is seen exploiting the poverty they have inflicted on the people of Talensi, after being in charge of the country for 25 of the last 33 years, is frankly insulting to the people. We are not worried about the sudden splash of cash and goodies in Talensi because we have seen that the people rather find the NDC tactic of starve-them-first-and-come-like-their-saviour as extremely annoying and they are prepared to take what the NDC bring to them and punish them heavily with their thumb.
Now, to our second issue.
THE POLICE AND NPP’S SUNDAY RALLY
Yesterday, the NPP received a letter from Deputy Commissioner S Y Afeku that our plans to hold a political rally in Tongo in Talensi cannot come off at our proposed venue because the NDC had also requested to hold its rally in the same area on the same day.
The explanation from the Police was that due to an “administrative error”, they had misplaced an earlier notification letter which they claim was presented by the NDC. So, they gave the green light to the NPP in error and would now like the NPP to shift its rally to give the NDC the “right” of place.
The Regional Commander’s letter made a suggestion which he, himself, in less than 12 hours went back on, whiles negotiations were still ongoing with us. He wrote in his letter favouring the NDC that, “To avoid any breach of the peace of the voting date of 07/07/15, we are suggesting you change either the location or the date proposed.”
In a meeting yesterday at the Regional Police Command, the NPP made it clear to the Commander and his Deputy that, based on earlier assurances from the Police, the Party had gone ahead to plan its campaign program accordingly, climaxing it with a rally, featuring the Parliamentary Candidate, Thomas Wuni, and the Flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, on the last conventional day for campaigning. So, to ask NPP to shift to an earlier day and with only a day’s official notice would not be fair.
The response of the Police was that the President of the Republic will be attending the NDC rally and that comes with security considerations. We reminded the Police that this was not like the last campaigning day of a general election, where rallies are held simultaneously across the country by various political parties. So the Police cannot reasonably say that it would be over-stretched by handling two rallies in a constituency with some 40,000 votes.
For the sake of peace, we even suggested to DCOP Afeku and his Deputy Commander Oweridu Nkansah that we were prepared to shift the venue (as already suggested in the Police letter) to the adjacent town for the same day.
A couple of hours after the meeting, the Police Commander called back to say they would not even allow us to hold the rally at the second option, which is Winkongo. It is worth noting that this second venue (Winkongo) was even first proposed by the Police themselves to us last Thursday.
The only conclusion we can draw from this is that the Regional Police Command is not dealing with this issue based on its own professional assessment of the situation. It appears not to be in control of the situation and has, sadly, ceded its authority to be fair, just, impartial and professional to the NDC all in the Government’s desperate bid to score a propaganda victory in Talensi.
In strict adherence to Section 1 of the Public Order Act, 1994, (ACT 491), the NPP, through our Upper East Regional Secretary, Cletus Innocent Ayamberi, delivered a letter to the Regional Police Command on Monday, June 29th, 2015, notifying the Police of our planned political rally at Tongo on Sunday, a clear six days to the planned rally.
A follow-up was done the very day by the National Organiser of the Party, John Boadu, and the former General Secretary of the NPP and a Member of Parliament for Okere, Dan Botwe, at the Regional Police headquarters. Our two representatives met two (2) senior officers, the Regional Staff Officer and the Regional Public Relations Officer (PRO) then and the Police said they had absolutely no objection to us holding the rally and that they operate strictly on “First Come First Serve” basis, admitting that we were the first political party to approach them on such an event.
Just three days after, the Police had changed their story. Suddenly, they have found a letter from the NDC, which they claimed was filed ten days before ours. When we asked to see the evidence, the Police showed us a letter from the NDC, clearly dated July 19, 2015, but purportedly received by the Police on June 19, 2015, notifying them of a rally set for July 5, 2015. How can a letter dated on a future date be received on June 19? At the same time, going through the files with the Police, we saw evidence of another letter from the NDC dated July 19 and received July 2, notifying them of the same NDC event.
The New Patriotic Party is very much concerned about the way the Regional Police Command appears to be bending over backwards to submit to the political wishes of the ruling Party and all in clear breach of the sovereign laws of the land. It is an affront on the integrity and professionalism of the Police Service.
Their loyalty is to the State, the Constitution and the sovereign people of Ghana and not to any political party.
If these acts of blatant and unlawful bias are not stopped but continued to the polling day of the by-elections on July 7, we are afraid it could cause some serious security concerns. It could most likely be worse in 2016 when stakes are much higher.
Yesterday, we reported to the Police information we have received that a political party (name advisedly withheld) is planning to provide police clothes to its activists with the intention of infiltrating the ranks of officers assigned to polling stations for the by-election. We want to advise the general public to watch out for any persons in police uniforms acting suspiciously on election day.
The incident at Cherepone is still fresh in our minds and we will urge the Police, the EC and the ruling party to put the interest of our dear nation first and act accordingly as genuine patriots to give the people of Talensi a free, fair, peaceful and credible election on Tuesday. We are, for our part, forever willing to cooperate with those prepared to act on the right side of the law and for peace.
We will continue to preach our message of hope to the people of Talensi and trust that they will neither be intimidated nor tricked by undue influence of any kind.
God bless the NPP
God bless the people of Talensi.