The Electoral Commission (EC) has blamed political actors especially at the local level for the pockets of violence that have been witnessed at some registration centres in the country.
It has therefore cautioned politicians to play by the rules of engagement and refrain from any act that would mar the registration exercise.
Addressing the ‘Let the citizens know’ series in Accra yesterday, the Deputy Chairman of the EC, Mr Samuel Tettey, said the EC vehemently condemned “such acts, especially during a civil exercise such as the registration of voters” and called on the security agencies to investigate the issues, as a matter of urgency, and bring the perpetrators to book to serve as a deterrent to other would-be offenders,”.
He said in some cases, registration officials were attacked physically or verbally and some applicants prevented from registering.
“These acts by political party agents and sympathisers disrupt the registration process and at times lead to closure of the centres for the rest of the day,” he said.
As a result of the disruptions to the registration process, he said, the commission had engaged with the security agencies to enhance security at the various centres.
“It is important to state, for the records, that well ahead of the nationwide registration exercise, the commission had extensive engagements with the security services. It wrote to the Inspector General of Police to request for police presence at its regional and district offices and at all the registration centres,” he said.
He added that the EC also submitted its Movement Plan to the police to aid them to know the registration centres and the dates for the various phases.
“So the commission has taken all the necessary steps to ensure that the registration centres are secure,” he noted.
No one prevented
Mr Tettey said no political party agent was prevented from observing the registration, as was reported on some platforms.
Rather, he said, the EC duly informed the political parties to be represented at the centres by issuing a press release and also officially writing to the parties.
“Official report from the commission indicates that the NDC did not send agents to Prempeh College but had agents at the Tepa SHS. The EC finds these allegations unfortunate and believes that they are attempts calculated to discredit the registration process and bring the commission’s name into disrepute,” he said.
Notwithstanding the pockets of violent incidents, he noted, the registration process had been generally peaceful, with the EC exceeding its targets.
“With the exception of two or three registration centres which have witnessed some form of violence, security at most of the registration centres is improving day by day in terms of efficiency and effectiveness,” he said.
He explained that apart from the security personnel who were permanently stationed at the registration centres, there were also mobile or patrol security teams that had been deployed to flash points to ensure public peace and order.
Mr Tettey said the registration exercise, with the sustained support of the public, had been successful and encouraging.
He said the EC was pleased with the ongoing exercise and the performance of registration officials, which had significantly improved since the exercise commenced.
He said the success of the exercise was also the result of the overall effective functioning of the biometric voter registration (BVR) kits.
“At the end of the third phase, 8,246,140 applicants had been registered, representing almost 55 per cent of the commission’s national projected registerable figure of 15 million,” he said.
He explained that as of July 20, 2020, a total of 9,860,164 applicants had been registered, representing 65.7 per cent of the projected 15 million.
“It is imperative to note that the deployment of more kits to the registration centres, increase in the number of mobile teams and back-ups and immediate replacement of faulty kits have resulted in the relative increment of persons registered in phase three,” Mr Tettey noted.
Providing clarity on how issues that erupted from the exercise should be resolved, the Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Jean Mensa, said politicians should not visit any registration centre ostensibly to help resolve challenges.
She explained that when politicians tried to resolve issues on their own, “we find that it leads to chaotic situations and so we should all discourage it”.
“The question is whether politicians can go to the centres to resolve issues. No politician and no Ghanaian is supposed to go to the centres to resolve issues. They are not policemen of the registration,” she said.
She said rather, politicians should follow laid down procedures to help bring resolutions to their concerns.
“There are reporting procedures to follow. If you have issues with anybody registering and you have raised eyebrows, there is a challenge form that you fill,” she said.
Mrs Mensa said the proper channel to seek redress during the registration exercise was the committee that had been set up for that purpose.
“The law recognises that in an exercise such as this, there will be challenges and, therefore, has put in place methods to ensure peaceful resolutions of these challenges and issues. The law entreats all of us, politicians and citizens alike, to go through the methods that have been put in place,” she noted.
She said the review committee frequently met to deliberate on the challenges to find resolutions to them.
“That committee is made up of political party agents, the head of the Education Service, the Police Service, the police commander. This committee is found in every district and it sits to review all the challenge cases and so we encourage Ghanaians, politicians and what have you, to go through the systems that have been laid down,” the EC Chairperson said.