Take proactive measures to tackle flashpoints … EC tells police service
By Phyllis D. Osabutey
THE DEPUTY Chairman, Finance and Administration of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mr. Amadu Sulley, has called on the Ghana Police Service (GPS) to be proactive in handling flash points that the EC will identify and make available to the police.
He said the EC was compiling all flash points to be given to the police service, noting that some of the areas that were flash points in the previous election might no longer constitute a flash point today, whereas new areas that were previously not a flash point would now qualify as such.
Thus, the EC expects the police service to be particularly proactive in dealing with flashpoints across the country, as well as other security matters before, during and after the December 2012 elections, he noted.
He said if possible, the police should keep a patrol van, especially at polling stations in flash point areas during the elections, to avoid or contain any situations that may arise.
Mr. Sulley was speaking at a one-day colloquium organized by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) on the theme: “Preserving National Security in Elections 2012 and beyond.”
The colloquium provided a platform for stakeholders to critically consider possible challenges and threats to peace and security during the general elections.
He said before the December 7 elections, the police should provide total security for the printing house, especially within the compound and inside the printing hall at all times, stressing “the police should make sure they check the identity of everyone entering the premises.”
He asked them to give proper attention to the strong room, where the completed ballots and plates for ballots printing are kept. He added that it was important for the police to ensure that any printed material being taken out of the printing house was under the authority and direction of the Commission’s printing supervisors and the Commission security at the printing house.
Also, he called for improved assistance of the police in the movement of ballots to the regions and districts, saying, “police should provide armed security for the movement of the ballots from printing house to the regional and district police headquarters.”
He further appealed to the police to be punctual at district offices of the Commission on Election Day (E-Day) to accompany personnel and materials from the point of distribution at the EC office to the polling stations.
Also, he assured the police that life jackets would be provided for those who would be working on E-Day to ensure their safety, while accompanying personnel and materials to riverine areas.
He urged police personnel to ensure law and order during the polls and to “effect the arrest of any person who commits an offence under the direction of the presiding officer.”
Additionally, the police should provide security during the counting of votes at the polling station and the collation of results at the constituency collation centers. At the close of poll, the police must also accompany materials from the polling station to the Commissioner’s storage facilities, he said.
On other issues, Mr. Sulley indicated that despite technical, logistical and operational challenges, the EC was able to have a successful biometric registration exercise because it quickly put in measures to address the problems.
At the end, he said the EC captured about 14 million eligible voters, which according to him, was statistically acceptable, considering the 2010 census figure of 13.8 million Ghanaians of 18 years and above, with a growth rate of 2.5 per annum.
However, a total number of 6,000 people were identified to have engaged in multiple registrations and this would be discussed with the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) before the EC announces further action, though they are sure to be excluded from voting for a number of years.
Concerning the creation of forty five new constituencies, he pointed out that “the Electoral Commission did its constitutional duty,” following the release of the final report of the 2010 population and housing census.
According to him, the Commission briefed Parliament on June 15, 2012, on the method used for the allocation of seats and did same on July 26 at the IPAC, saying “if they are saying they don’t know, they are not being honest.”
He stressed that “this action was consistent with the 1992 constitution. We did our constitutionally mandated function. We leaned on Articles 45, 46, 47 and 48 of chapter 7 of the1992 constitution.”
He further explained that the EC created the constituencies this year, and not later, as people were suggesting, because it is mandated to create the constituencies within twelve months of the final release of census results.
He added that further delay in the creation of the constituencies would have affected the mature date of the constituencies, such that they could only take effect in 2017.
This, in effect, would leave about nineteen districts and municipal assemblies without members of parliament within the period, he observed.
On the nomination of presidential candidates, he said, “some political parties had some challenges and they could not file their nominations. Their nominations were rejected in accordance with the law. I hope what happened last week will be a lesson to all registered political parties for the future.”
Among other things, the EC Deputy Chairman urged political parties to avoid the use of abusive language on their opponents, hiring of thugs to intimidate their opponents and causing violence on E-Day.
Also, he told political parties not to provoke their opponents by holding their campaign rally close to their opponents’ office, and discourage their supporters from carrying arms to political rallies.
He ended by saying that ensuring a free and fair election is a collective responsibility and should not be left only for the EC.
On his part, the Director of Operations of the GPS, DCOP Patrick Timbilla said the National Elections Security Task Force (NESTF), comprising the various security agencies was preparing adequately to handle its task effectively.
He said the task force would be replicated in all the regions and districts to ensure peace before, during and after the December 2012 elections.
According to him, training was ongoing to build the capacities of personnel of all the law enforcement agencies across the country, to ensure that life goes on normally on the E-day.
He said the police would work day and night to enhance peace and security during the entire process, and particularly carry out patrols on armed robbery activities, emphasizing that “everything that needs security will be taken care of.”
On the issue of flash points, he indicated that the police would identify them and work in collaboration with the military serving as a back-up team to ensure security and peace in those areas.
Participants at the colloquium included the NESTF, EC, National Peace Council, Political Parties, Civil Society Organizations, National House of Chiefs, National Security Council Secretariat, National Media Commission, Ghana Journalists Association and the National Commission for Civic Education.
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