General News Mon, 10 Aug 2020

Flashback: Messy registration of voters dominates Ghana media

Long queues, violence, shortage of logistics, breakdown of cameras, registration of minors, busing of people from one constituency to the other marred a 10-day registration exercise organised by the Electoral Commission in 2008. The exercise was organised to capture names of young people who turned 18 and above yet did not have their names in the voters roll.

Reports filed by some news portals then suggested that the two main political parties, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), had perhaps taken the process too seriously.

Amongst other things, there were widespread reports of intimidation, registration of minors and violence at some registration centres.

Some of these stories were captured under the headline, “NDC/NPP spare us."

Fast forward to 2020, another registration exercise organised to compile a new voters roll has been characterised with similar reports coupled with pockets of violence.

Read the full story originally published on August 10, 2008, on Ghanaweb

A messy exercise to capture young people who have attained voting age and those whose names are not on the voters' register dominated the media all week, especially as the two major political parties pointed accusing fingers at each other for creating the confusion.

Long queues, violence, shortage of logistics, breakdown of cameras, registration of minors, busing of people from one constituency to the other have be-devilled the 10-day exercise which ends on Sunday.

"NDC/NPP spare us" was the headline of the pro-government Accra Daily Mail, which referred to the activities of the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the mess.

The newspaper said "from all indications, the registration exercise is being taken seriously, perhaps too seriously," as reports speak of intimidation, registration of minors and violence.

It said the development had prompted Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission, to describe the violence being witnessed as "shameful".

"It is shameful; it tells us that we don't understand democracy... it tells us that the parties and candidates are behind these things," he was quoted as saying.

The pro-government Statesman said the opposition NDC was on an "assault and intimidation spree" as an agent of the ruling NPP was brutalised and a reporter of the paper threatened with death.

"The opposition NDC continues to demonstrate its violent nature with unprovoked assaults on political opponents as well as threats of deaths on media practitioners who are seen as 'unfriendly,'" the Statesman said.

The pro-opposition Ghana Palaver focused on the anxiety of the youth to register, saying they have been keeping vigil at the registration centres to make sure they have their voter's card.

However, it also said, pro-government organisations and individuals had been subverting the exercise through various acts of violence, intimidation and other illegal activities.

The Ghana Palaver said the pro-government Peacekeepers disrupted the exercise in northern Ghana.

While calls continue to be made to the Electoral Commission to extend the exercise, the NDC said instead of an extension, the Electoral Commission should provide the materials and speed up the process.

"The NDC has strongly condemned the EC for its ineptitude in handling the registration exercise and the NPP for mischief, naked aggression, violence and unbridled quest for power," the Ghana Palaver wrote.

A small opposition party, the People's National Convention (PNC), for its part, has accused the two main parties of breaching the Election Code of Conduct that all the parties have signed.

The state-owned Ghanaian Times quoted Dr. Edward Mahama, leader of the PNC, as saying "The intimidation and acts of violence which have characterised the ongoing registration exercise by operatives of the two parties is unacceptable".

With the polls indicating that the race is rather tight between the NDC and NPP and a second round of voting is most likely, the two parties are desperate to get as many of their supporters as possible to vote and the Electoral Commission has been overwhelmed by the number.

The lobbying for the running mate of Nana Akufo-Addo of the NPP also found space on the front pages.

Various newspapers have been naming various contenders to be in the lead, including Women and Children's Minister Alima Mahama, Water Resources, Works and Housing Minister Abubakar Sadique Boniface and former Trade and Industry Minister Alan Kyerematen.

The Statesman said although the selection of the running mate was the prerogative of the candidate, a leading member has set his qualifications to help him make a choice.

The paper said Appiah Minka, Chairman of the Council of Elders of the NPP in the Ashanti Region, said these include compatibility, competence, a respected person, who would be acceptable to the party and the nation and the geo-politics of a north/south equation.

There are only 10 days left for the running mate to be introduced at the party's delegates' conference, and many believe Akufo-Addo has settled on Alima Mahama.

But anything can happen.
Source: www.ghanaweb.com
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