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General News Sat, 2 Feb 2019

Ayawaso West by-election: EC urges NPP, NDC to end political vigilantism

The Electoral Commission (EC) has dismissed suggestions linking violence with the successful conduct of the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election last Thursday.

The EC said the violence took place at the residence of the parliamentary candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Delali Kwasi Brempong and not at a polling station and for that matter, did not in any way, interfere with election proceedings.

Addressing a press conference at its headquarters in Accra yesterday, the Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Jean Mensa, said the blame ought to be placed squarely at the doorstep of the two major political parties rather than the EC.

She was of the view that political violence must be condemned in all its forms and that the two political parties; the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the NDC must be impressed upon by all national stakeholders to end the practice of political vigilantism.

In the view of the EC, the chairperson said last Thursday’s poll was successful and credible, adding that it was unfortunate that the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) had decided to produce a report that sought to indict the credibility of the poll as a result of the violence that occurred at the private residence of the NDC candidate.

NDC withdrawal, security

She also stated that the EC was not aware that the NDC had withdrawn from the election but rather it was their agents they decided to withdraw and that such a withdrawal did not in any way impact on the success and credibility of the poll.

Mrs Mensa explained that, as usual, the EC informed the police and other security agencies of the impending poll and requested security which was provided for all the 137 polling centers.

She said the deployed security were unarmed, friendly and were positioned far off from the election booths and did not, therefore, constitute any threat to a voter.

According to her, the appearance of masked and armed men, was not part of the security arrangement made and that the EC itself was at a loss when their presence was reported.

Regardless of that development, she said, the exercise went on smoothly and the results as declared were without blemish and very credible.

Widespread condemnation

A number of organisations and personalities have roundly condemned the needless violence during the by-election.

They include the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), OccupyGhana, former President John Dramani Mahama and governance expert Dr Ransford Gyampoh.

The Chairman of the National Peace Council, Reverend Prof. Emmanuel Asante, has condemned the violence that erupted during the by-election saying, “violence in any way should not be entertained in the country.”

“The incident that happened during the by-election at Ayawaso West Wuogon should be condemned in no uncertain terms,” he stated.

Although the National Peace Council was yet to meet on the incident, he said the Council would not entertain any form of violence against anybody at any instance.

Rev. Prof. Asante, therefore, urged the Ghana Police Service to “open their eyes well” and embark on serious investigations into the incident and ensure that the perpetrators were brought to book and held accountable.”

“While the police are investigating, their communication department must update the public from time to time to avoid speculations,” he added.

Violence

Barely two hours into the voting exercise, there were sporadic gunshots at the La Bawaleshie residence of the parliamentary aspirant of the NDC.

Eye-witnesses said they saw some heavily built armed men believed to be members of the Invisible Forces, a political vigilante group, invading the residence of Mr Brempong and opened fire on scores of people who had gathered there.



Source: Graphic.com.gh
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