Non-Residents can be polling agents-EC
Ms Laurentia Kpatakpa, Volta Regional Director of the Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC), has stressed that no regulation states that polling agents of political parties must necessarily be residents of constituencies they are assigned to.
She said no law therefore bars political parties from assigning non-residents as agents across regions.
Ms Kpatakpa was responding to concerns of Mr. Forster Segbe, Volta Regional Secretary of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) at a meeting of the Volta Regional Inter-Party Dialogue Committee (IPDC) in Ho, about assaults on polling agents in certain parts of the Volta Region during the 2008 general elections.
She said ordinarily, the local party members were appointed as agents, perhaps because they knew the terrain better, especially so, when elections in Ghana were localised.
“But certainly no law bars the political parties from appointing polling agents across regions”, she stated.
Ms Kpatakpa advised that agents wherever they came from should be duly authenticated and formally introduced to the EC, to enable the Commission to take responsibility for them.
The IPDC meeting was an interaction with the top hierarchy of political parties in the region, to get them to commit their parties to peaceful elections and challenges.
Ms Kpatakpa advised that the IPDC seek support from Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) for its operations rather than the political parties.
Mr. Pontius Pilate Apaabey Baba, Acting Regional Director of the National Commission of Civic Education (NCCE), under whose aegis the IPDC was operating, said the Commission was cash strapped for now and could not pick up the cost of operations of the Committee.
He said the import of the IPDC was its platform for all stakeholders to discuss and coordinate efforts to ensure peaceful elections.
Mr. Baba said the knotty areas, with the potential of creating problems in the process include unprofessional media reportage, abuse of incumbency, rigging, campaign violence, defacing of posters and use of provocative language.
Mama Agblatsu, Member of the Committee, said political parties should see the opportunities offered by the IPDC platform more seriously than it appeared.
She said the parties should send high profile officers who have the clout, attend meetings regularly and on time.
Monsignor Anthony Kornu, Chairman of the Committee for Enforcing Political Parties Code of Conduct in the Volta region, reminded politicians that they would be judged by their own statements.
He said politicians in seeking the votes of Ghanaians, must proceed in total civility, calling their members who misbehaved to order.
“Theirs is a bidding to run the affairs of the state and not to ruin it,” Monsignor Kornu stated.
Suggestions made during discussions include the need for polling to start on time to avoid balloting in the dark and the independence of the security apparatus.
Mr. Enoch Amegbletor, Volta Regional Youth Organiser of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), commended the security for striving to do well but demanded that political parties were briefed on cases of assault and criminal behaviours recorded during the past biometric registration exercise in the region.**