By Bernice Bessey .
The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has cited the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana for misrepresentation of its findings on the Close-Of-Polls statement on the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency by-election.
CODEO, in adhering to the strict protocols of electoral observation, argued that what it reported on electoral the violence and uncoordinated security on Thursday, January 31, 2019, were factual claims and not hearsay or a third party account.
According to the Coalition, consistent with its practice, it communicated its initial report of the election, not only to the public, through traditional and new media channels, but also to the leadership of the Electoral Commission (EC) via e-mail.
Albert Arhin, National Coordinator of CODEO, at a press conference to set the records straight on the misrepresentation by the EC, regarding the Coalition’s close-of-polls statement, yesterday in Accra, said: “CODEO is, therefore, surprised that claims or assertions it did not make in its initial statement have been attributed to it by the Electoral Commission of Ghana in a press statement, and at a press conference apparently, in reaction to the CODEO statement.”
Setting the record straight, he said, contrary to the impression created by the EC, regarding the shooting incident at La Bawaleshie, CODEO did not indicate anywhere in its statement that the said shooting incident took place at a polling station, stressing that CODEO was clear in its statement that “CODEO observers witnessed the violent incident, including shooting incident, which took place in the La Bawaleshie area at East Legon.”
Mr. Arhin further stressed that the CODEO statement also did not in any way attempt to link the Electoral Commission to the shooting incident, contrary to the EC’s claim, saying that CODEO, in fact, pointed out that its observers could not confirm the exact cause of the violent incident.
Although the Electoral Commission, also in its statement, denied that the violent incident which took place at La Bawaleshie affected voting, the coalition, on the other hand, stated that the shooting temporarily disrupted the polls at the polling station.
On security, he said: “CODEO further wishes to point out that, its general observation about the security deployment for the by-election, as stated in its statement, was not limited to stationed security personnel, but also mobile patrol teams. Indeed, security operatives in some of the mobile patrol vehicles sighted by observers at some polling stations were armed.”
He continued that regarding the incident at a polling station at the Prisons JHS Polling Station at Roman Ridge, where a stationed uniformed police officer was attacked for questioning and directing some plain-clothed security operatives at the polling station to reposition themselves, CODEO stands by the account of its observer and is ready to cooperate with the Electoral Commission and the security agencies to undertake further investigation into the matter.
The Coordinator went on to say that contrary to the EC’s suggestion that CODEO did not provide an overall picture of the conduct of the polls, he argued that the coalition never painted that picture, but reported that there was generally a smooth voting exercise, including the smooth performance of biometric devices.
Indeed, the CODEO initial statement clearly indicated that “CODEO will continue to observe the counting and declaration of results, and will issue its preliminary statement in due course,” he added.
He assured the EC and the general public that, in line with CODEO’s standard practice, its final report on the election, which will provide a comprehensive assessment of the by-election, would be released in the coming days.