Poverty Affects Polls In Upper West

Fri, 18 Aug 2006 Source: Times

Wa -- A number of aspiring assembly members in the Upper West Region have filed their nomination with the Electoral Commission without the required passport pictures because they said they could not afford the ¢60,000 to cover transportation and having their photos taken.

Yahaya Mahama, Upper West Regional Director of the Electoral Commission (EC), made this known to the Times at Wa. He noted that acquisition of the photographs had been a major problem to some aspirants citing the poverty level of the people as a result of which most people are disinterested in the elections.

“It costs about ¢30,000 for an aspirant in a remote village in the Sissala East District to travel to Tumu town and another ¢30,000 for photographs, bringing the total to ¢60,000 and the money is not available.

“This has resulted in some of the contestants filling their nominations without photographs,” Mr. Mahama explained.

However, he expressed the hope that the aspirants would be able to provide the pictures in good time for processing.

Though he could not immediately give the exact number of those who filed the nominations without pictures, Mr. Mahama said 381 people out of which 47 are women, are contesting the 198 district assembly seats in the region.

He said in the Wa Municipality 13 out of the 17 electoral areas are being contested while the remaining four have been declared unopposed.

Mr. Mahama said 18 of 19 electoral areas in the Wa West district are being contested while 16 out of the 18 areas in the Wa East district and 32 of the Nadowli’s 36 areas would be contested.

In the Jirapa-Lambussie district, 29 of the 42 electoral areas are unopposed while 26 of the 36 seats in Lawra and 13 out of the 14 in the Sissale East district will be contested. Mr. Mahama said in the Sissala West district candidates for 11 electoral areas are going unopposed leaving four areas to be contested.

The EC will be mounting platform for the candidates to present their manifestoes to the electorate and he asked contestants to ensure a proper sense of decorum in the presentation of their manifestoes whilst advising them to avoid insults and attacks on their opponents.

He said every effort was being made to, ensure a free and fair elections the result of which would be accepted by all.

Speaking to the Times in Accra yesterday, the Director of Elections at the EC, Kofi Arhin, said the photographs of the aspirants were needed to print the ballot papers.

He said the rule is that if aspirants are not able to provide their pictures, their nominations will be considered invalid. Mr. Arhin, however, added that the Commission will not discount those aspirants outrightly, saying in areas that the aspirants are standing unopposed it is possible their nomination will be considered, because the electorate will not have the challenge of identifying the candidate without his photograph.”

He also said the EC in anticipation of such challenges, provided facilities at various points throughout for photographs to be taken.

He conceded that in the Upper West Region because of the distances between the communities and where the facilities were located, it was possible that some aspirants were not able to take advantage of it.

Source: Times