Be more involved in election security – Emile Short C’ssion to EC
The Electoral Commission was essentially unaware of the details of the police operation during the controversial Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election.
Taking her turn before the Emile Short Commission on Friday, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Jean Mensa was questioned on the extent of the commission’s engagement on security matters in the by-election that was characterised by violence near a polling station in the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency.
As far as security preparations are concerned, the EC wrote to the police requesting security for the polling stations.
There was an initial meeting with the police regional command where researched information on possible flashpoints, among other dynamics, were provided, Jean Mensa said.
But a member of the Commission, Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu said this did not excuse the EC from not having its own security experts.
“You are in charge of an election. You know what an election requires but if you outsource the security to someone who does not know what is required then you may have a gap.”
“You assume that they [police] will do their duty but did they do their duty? That becomes a question you have to answer when really it was not up to you. My advice is that in future there should be better coordination of the security with the EC,” Professor Mensa-Bonsu stated.
No detailed briefing from police
After initial engagements, the commission was in the dark as to the police’s deployment plans for the by-election.
“Once we provided them with the list, we didn’t receive any detailed briefing from them [police] as to how they were going to deploy their personnel,” Jean Mensa disclosed.
Again, Prof. Mensah Bonsu, during her questions, stressed that it was important the EC was privy to the operational plan of the police.
She also expressed concerns over the election policing experience.
Jean Mensa, in her response, said: “there is an election task force and they normally are deployed during the election to oversee it so we believe or we assume that they may have taken charge.”
Appearing before the commission after the EC Chair, the Director General of Operations for the Ghana Police, DCOP George Alex Mensah said the service is not required to brief the Electoral Commission or any other institutions involved in the electoral process on its operational preparations.
“Because they don’t control those operational agencies. It is only the composite operational order from the national headquarters that can involve the various agencies,” he said.