Ghana’s police chief John Kudalor has told security personnel along Ghana’s borders not to frustrate Ghanaians living in Togo from crossing over to vote in the 7 December polls.
Addressing journalists during a day’s visit to the Volta Region, which is known to be the stronghold of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC), the Inspector General of Police said: “I don’t think the Togolese have any mandate to come and vote here, but you know the long-standing history between the Volta Region and Togo. All that we are saying is that any Ghanaian is free to stay anywhere and work. So, if you are even living outside the African continent and you are duly registered and your papers are ready, you can fly in, nobody can stop you at the airport. In the same wise, if you find yourself in a country within our borders, I don’t think anybody should be prevented.”
“The security agency would ensure that everybody who is supposed to vote or who is to have easy access to and from the country across the borders [is] … allowed to vote. If you have any problem with anybody, it should be at the polling station; to see that he is not duly registered, he is coming to be an imposter or unlawfully voting.
The IGP’s concerns about Ghanaians in Togo taking part in the country come just a day after the presidential candidate of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo appealed to Togolese to stay off Ghana’s elections. Speaking to party supporters in Aflao in the Volta Region, which shares borders with Togo, Mr Akufo-Addo, who speaks very fluent French, told citizens of the francophone West African country that they can support Ghana’s democratic process by staying away from Ghana’s elections.
The NPP has always accused the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) whose stronghold is the Volta Region, of constantly smuggling Togolese into Ghana’s jurisdiction to vote during elections.
The people of the Volta Region share a common language (Ewe) with the Togo while a lot of Ewe-speaking Ghanaians also crisscross the border for daily business activities. Some of them too have families on either side of the border. It is, therefore, difficult to distinguish between a Togolese and a Ghanaian from that part of the country. The situation has, thus, given rise to intense suspicion between the NDC and the NPP, especially in every election year and 2016 has not been any different.
Earlier this year, the vice-presidential candidate of the NPP, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, said Ghana’s electoral roll contained the names of about 76,000 Togolese smuggled into the country by the NDC to register as Ghanaians so they could take part in the elections. The NDC has constantly demanded evidence from Dr Bawumia in connection with that allegation.
The NPP also recently launched a campaign dubbed “operations eagle eye” that aims to stop all Togolese from taking part in Ghana’s elections.