Come Out and Vote - EC
The Electoral Commission is appealing to the Ghanaian populace to participate actively in the forthcoming district assembly and unit committee elections by coming out to vote on September 12, 2006.
A Deputy Greater Accra Electoral Officer Mr Christian Owusu Parry states that voting starts at 0700 hours and ends at 1700 hours at all the 21,000 polling stations spread over the country. However, voters who had not voted after the 1700 hours would be allowed to vote provided they were already in the queue before 1700 hours.
He says out of the 1,219 nominations for the Unit Committees in the Greater Accra Region, only 90 would be contested for. Also, he adds that of out 218 district assemblies’ members 18 were returned unopposed.
Mr Parry states that the EC would ensure that voting materials get to the polling stations before 0700 hours. He said the Presiding Officer would open the sealed ballot boxes at 06.30 hours adding that all polling agents should report early to witness it since no agent could challenge the Presiding Officer if he reported late.
He said voters in areas where district assembly and unit committee elections were both taking place would have to cast their votes twice adding, "One candidate should be chosen for the district assembly and 10 candidates for the unit committees. Any number above that would be rejected."
Mr Parry said the unit committees take a longer time to count due to the complexities adding that if for instance 20 candidates were contesting, the results would be tallied for all before counting.
He said voters, who had misplaced their identity cards, would be attended to by the Electoral Officer and that this should not be a hindrance to casting their votes. He called on voters to comport themselves on the election day and to exercise restraint for the results to be declared.
12,429 Candidates for Eastern Region Polls
12,429 candidates including 1,792 women filed their nominations to contest for 608 Unit Committees in 17 districts in the Eastern region.
Statistics made available to the Ghana News Agency (GNA) by the Eastern Regional Directorate of the Electoral Commission (EC) at Koforidua, indicated that the region had 2,294 units.
It said candidates filed for 608 units, no candidates for 609 units, candidates in 122 units were declared unopposed and 955 units could not obtain the required 10 candidates per unit.
Only a woman is among 23 candidates in the Akuapem North District as against 248 women in Kwahu South District and 206 women in Afram Plains District.
Suhum-Kraboa-Coalter District has the highest with 1,602 candidates, followed by Afram Plains District with 1,514 candidates and 1,180 candidates in Manya Krobo District.
Units in Atiwa and Akuapem South Districts would be keenly contested because all the units are being contested unlike 15 other districts that had 122 unopposed candidates.
Out of the 608 units to be contested, Afram Plains District is leading with 26 unopposed candidates followed by Fanteakwa with 13.
In all the 17 districts, Afram Plains has the highest with 194 units, followed by Kwahu South with 180 and Manya Krobo with 179 while New Juaben Municipality has the lowest with 86 units.
With the units to be contested Suhum-Kraboa-Coalter District has the highest with 103 followed by Kwahu South District with 98 and Akuapem North District the lowest with two.
This is because 90 units in Akuapem North District are without nominations while 75 units could not obtain the 10 candidates required for a unit to participate in the elections.
Vote for Women! - Assembly Woman Says
The Assembly Member at Jinijini, a farming community in Brong Ahafo Mrs Vivian Obiri-Yeboah has implored women to vote for female aspirants in the district assembly elections as failure to do so would compound their problems.
Mrs Obiri-Yeboah made the appeal through the Ghana News Agency at a one-day forum organised by the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) for 120 women opinion leaders, incumbents and aspiring assembly women and civil organisations.
She noted that women in the area, who were mostly farmers, had threatened not to vote in the elections because those they voted for in previous elections failed to meet their expectations.
The Assembly Member said the aggrieved women had also complained about bad roads in the area, which was a major problem that had forced them to carry their farm produce all by themselves to town because drivers had refused to ply on the roads.
Mrs Obiri-Yeboah appealed to the women to change their attitude and vote massively for women, since if they failed to vote, the men would vote the male aspirants into power to take decisions, which would not be in their favour.
Mr Kwame Agyenim-Boateng, Berekum District Director of NCCE, said the forum under the theme, "Towards district level elections 2006 for the empowerment of women and social development of the district", was to sensitise and empower women to take their rightful and proper positions in the governance of the district.
He said the forum was also to enable women to understand social auditing and how good it was for the development of their communities.
Mr Agyenim-Boateng explained that social auditing was the mechanism by which the people were empowered to participate in local governance to be able to demand accountability from leaders and duty bearers.
The NCCE director stated that the NCCE’S vision was to assist women to understand it and to ensure that the lapses in the discharge of duties by leaders were corrected. He challenged women to join hands with men in national development, noting their contributions in decision making was very limited.
Mr Agyenim-Boateng tasked them to rise up to the call and ensure that projects were properly executed by constantly monitoring the activities of the contractors.
Mrs Mercy Ayiwa Amoh, Field Officer of the NCCE, said women’s participation was essential in the decentralised local government system, stressing that the empowerment of women to become active in politics should not be the duty of the government alone.
It is a shared responsibility, she said and expressed the hope that the forum would help to improve their involvement in active politics.
Mrs Amoh charged the women to do away with apathy and get actively involved in issues about their communities as their inability to do so would create more problems.
Mr Michael Amponsah, Deputy Regional Director of NCCE, Brong Ahafo, expressed regret about the low level of women’s representation in the legislative assembly. He indicated that Ghana’s 10.2 per cent of women’s representation in the legislative assembly in 2004 was not encouraging as compared to what pertained in Morocco, with 10.8, Tunisia 11.5, Burkina Faso 11.7, Namibia 29.2, South Africa 29.8 and war-torn Rwanda 48.8 per cent as in 2003.
He called on women to foster unity among them selves, which was fundamental to their own empowerment. Mr Amponsah said the participation of women in decision-making and local governance would help to mitigate their political manipulation by male politicians, adding it would ease tension between different groups and produce better policies.
He appealed to institutions and agencies including the Department of Women, (NCWD) Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAG) and civil organisations to provide capacity building, logistics and financial support to enable women to push their agenda forward.
EC Commends Media
The Northern Regional Director of the Electoral Commission Mr Sylvester Kanyi has commended the media for their contribution towards the election administration and the deepening of democracy and decentralisation process in the country.
Mr Kanyi was addressing a one-day "Electoral Commission encounter with the media," for journalists from both the print and the electronic media in the region in Tamale towards the forthcoming district level elections.
He particularly lauded the media in the region for their reportage of the Tamale Central by-election, which, he said, was largely successful and had recorded more than 80 per cent voter turnout, the highest in the country’s electoral history.
He said: "The media is one of the most important stakeholders of the Commission in its constitutional duty of election administration. The forum is therefore a strategic thinking of the EC to interact with the media to help enhance democracy in the country".
The Regional Director briefed the journalists on the various processes towards the District Assembly and Unit Committee election beginning with "mounting of platform" by the candidates, scheduled from August 21 to September 9, 2006.
He explained that the mounting of platform was an avenue created by the Electoral Commission to afford candidates the opportunity to present themselves and their programmes to the electorate, adding that it would also enable voters to verify the suitability of their candidates.
Mr Kanyi announced that there would be mounting of platform in 499 electoral areas and 448 Units in out of a total of 546 electoral areas and 1,020 Units in the region. He said 1,258 men and 177 women would mount the platform for the District Assembly Election while 5,898 men and 821 women would do same for the Unit Committee poll, beginning from August 21.Past elections
Giving statistics on district level elections turnout in the Northern Region from 1988/89, when both the District Assembly and Unit Committee were first held in the country, Mr Kanyi said in 1988/89, out of the 433,475 registered voters, 253,487 cast their votes, representing 60.6 per cent voter turn.
He said in 1994, of the 456,387 registered voters, 159.012 cast their ballot, representing a 28.1 per cent voter turnout while in 1998, 389,580 out of the 726,610 registered voters exercise their franchise, representing a 53.6 per cent voter turn out.
In the last district level elections in 2002, the region recorded a 43.6 per cent voter turnout in the polls where out of the 456,181 registered voters, 198,825 cast their votes, he said.
Mr Kanyi reminded the public that the district level elections were strictly non-partisan quoting Article 248 of the 1992 Constitution to buttress the point.
The Article states: "A candidate seeking election to a District Assembly or any lower government unit shall present himself to the electorate as an individual and not use any symbol associated with any political party".
"A political party shall not endorse sponsor, offer a platform to or in any way campaign for or against a candidate seeking election to a District Assembly or any lower government unit".
The Director gave the assurance that the Commission would ensure maximum security at all the polling stations to enable eligible voters to exercise their franchise without any hindrance.
Mr Amadu Sulley, Director in charge of research, monitoring and evaluation at the Electoral Commission, Accra, reminded journalists to cross-check their facts at all times, especially at elections, to promote the credibility of the polls.
Electoral Commission Schools Journalists in Local Polls
The Electoral Commission (EC) has met a section of journalists in the Accra metropolis to school them on the processes leading to the metropolitan, municipal and district assembly and unit committee elections.
Speaking at the programme, the Greater Accra Regional Director of the EC Mr Mohammed Adoquaye said it was the responsibility of the EC to mount platforms for the candidates to market themselves since the election was non-partisan and candidates were not supposed to mount platforms on their own.
He said the commission began mounting platforms for candidates standing for the district level elections to enable them to interact with the people in their electoral areas. He said, candidates for the elections are allowed to individually go from house to house to solicit for votes but not to go public to campaign as in the case of the Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.
The workshop was to equip the media with the relevant information for awareness creation on local government elections since the lack of adequate publicity on the elections had been a major problem in the past.
Mr Adoquaye said at least one platform would be mounted in each electoral area for candidates to give their messages as well as to verify the suitability of the candidate when the electorate would raise any legal or moral issues backed by facts on his or her qualification and character.
He said the platforms were mounted and controlled by the District and Returning Officers, who would monitor the campaign and that the Officers could not disqualify any candidate based on allegations made against him or her and that when that situation arose the matter should be referred to the EC for its decision.
Mr Adoquaye said a candidate must be a citizen of Ghana, not less than 18 years, registered voter, ordinarily resident in the district, not owing taxes, be of sound mind and not sentenced for fraud among other things.
He said candidates were advised to refrain from giving gifts, intimidate, threaten or force the electorate to win votes. The electorate should also exercise restraint in order not to slander any candidate since the candidate had the right to sue that person.
Mr Kwadwo Sarfo-Kantanka, Deputy Chairman in Charge of Operations, EC, said the major danger in electoral reporting was generalisation and urged Journalists to verify any problem before coming to conclusions and not to base their story on hearsay.
He said out of the 14,135 candidates registered so far for the elections, only 12.4 per cent were women adding that there was still the need to encourage more women to participate.
Mrs Phelomena Adusei, Deputy Greater-Accra Regional Director of EC, said every eligible voter had the responsibility to vote to elect the right person to represent the district and urged them to come out in their numbers to vote.
She said district and unit committee elections were very important since representatives were close to the people at the grassroots and could better articulate their problems.