Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election: Low turnout due to security intimidation – CODEO
The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers wants the government to thoroughly investigate circumstances surrounding the deployment of masked and heavily armed men to various polling stations during the Ayawaso by-elections on Thursday.
CODEO believes the presence of the men intimidated many voters and contributed to the very low turnout at the polls.
The independent observer group said it counted as many as 15 of such armed and masked persons at some polling stations during the elections.
The identities of the masked men and whose instructions they were working under was not known until the Minister of State in Charge of National Security, Bryan Acheampong disclosed in a Citi News interview that they were security personnel sanctioned by the state.
Before then, the police hierarchy had denied knowledge of who the personnel were.
The masked and armed men were captured on video physically assaulting the Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram, Sam George during a heated altercation.
There were also reports of sporadic gunshots at the La Bawaleshie presby school polling station.
The National Coordinator for CODEO, Albert Arhin in an interview on Eyewitness News said the deployment of such personnel to polling stations during elections must not be countenanced.
“Our view is that, in every election, the planning of the security is done together with the EC. Our concern has been that, you go to a polling station and find about 13 or 15 security persons with gunshots and so on. We are saying that it doesn’t auger well for the smooth running of an election and so these things should be taken note of and investigated. We cannot have polling stations with hooded people, masked people there, it will intimidate voters and that is not what we want,” he said.
Mr. Arhin intimated that low turnout at the poll was as a result of the tension created at the various polling stations.
“Did you see the turn out of this election which is 19 percent? Everywhere in this world, you will never have people visiting polling stations where security personnel are seen wearing masks. It is intimidation and that is what CODEO is saying that this thing should not happen again. Some investigation ought to be done and should never happen again,” he said.
The New Patriotic Party’s parliamentary candidate, Lydia Seyram Alhassan, eventually won the poll with 12, 041 votes, representing 68.30% after her main contender, Emmanuel Akwasi Brempong and the NDC boycotted the electoral process to protest the alleged attacks on their members.