Polls have opened in parts of the country for a historic vote by thousands of Ghanaians to decide whether the proposed six new regions should be created.
Before 7:00am, residents in parts of the Brong Ahafo, Northern, Volta and Western regions from which the six new regions are to be created had queued to cast their vote in the referendum that has for months generated headlines for many reasons.
Today’s referendum is the first under Ghana’s 1992 constitution.
Ahafo, Bono East, Oti, Western North, Savannah and North East are the new regions the government is seeking to create to deepen decentralization by bringing development closer to the people in those areas who some of who have complained of underdevelopment over the years.
Our correspondents in those enclaves report turn out have so far been encouraging and the ‘Yes or No’ voting has been peaceful. No issue of late arrival of electoral materials or criminal activity has been reported.
However, some of the polling stations as at the time of our news team’s visit, did not have security personnel present as required.Some residents in the proposed Bono East and the Oti regions who had cast their votes told our journalists they were voting for good roads, hospitals and medical staff, and other amenities among other developments.
Fifty per cent of registered voters in each of the proposed regions are required to cast their vote and more than 80 per cents the vote cast by the 50 per cent must be ‘Yes’ in order for the creation of the proposed regions to be successful.
The Akufo-Addo’s government decision to create the new regions which stemmed from petition from the people in those areas has been met with criticisms with some critics rejecting the argument being advancing for the new regions creation.Some people have over the last months taken legal means to thwart the efforts but without success.
They have accused government of taking the side and campaigning for Yes vote in the referendum while some chiefs have used their stools and gods to threaten people who are pushing for a No vote, particularly in the Oti enclave.
‘Yes vote’ campaigners have in the last few months been pushing for people in the proposed enclaves to turn up in their numbers to vote massively for the creation of the new regions to attract development.
A last gasp attempt by some No vote campaigners to use the courts to get the EC to postpone today’s referendum appears to have been rendered moot as the application for an injunction is yet to be heard by the Human Rights Court in Accra.
Two registered voters in one of the proposed regions who alleged breaches of the 2018 regulations on the referendum filed and abused of their fundamental human rights filed the application Monday to stop the EC from proceeding with the referendum
But the EC will not budge. A statement issued late Monday rejected claims of injunction on the referendum and urged the public to reject same.
It further denied claims of breaches as alleged by the two applicants.
Earlier, attempts by some people to get all Ghanaians in existing regions from which the new ones are to be created from to vote in the referendum failed as the Supreme Court ruled such a move will be inconsistent with the county’s constitution.