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A section of Ghanaians located in Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency of Ghana’s capital went to the polls on 31st January 2019 to elect a new Member of Parliament, for the constituency due to the demise of its former occupant; NPP Legislator, Emmanuel Boakye Agyarko last year.
The preparations ahead of the by-elections by the Electoral Commission passed all the requirements needed for conducting and ensuring a peaceful and credible election. From our monitors, voting started on time with all the requisite materials in place and personnel equipped for the task ahead. However, this elections was far from plain-sailing and was marred by reported cases of alleged brutalities by members of unknown security forces both at the polling stations and at the residence of the leading opposition (NDC) candidate, Delali Brempong, attacks on police personnel by another arm of the nation’s security force and general voter intimidation by the unnecessary heavy presence of security personnel which can be partially attributed to the low turn-out in this by-election. All of these do not behove well for future elections, especially the 2020 general elections which is only a few months away.
In addition, Penplusbytes’ monitoring of this by-election using our social media tracking system (SMTC) reveals that the allegations and counter allegations were buoyed by a dangerous mix of facts, misinformation and disinformation about the unfolding of events. In light of this situation, we call on the Ghana Police as the lead for coordination of security during elections, to investigate these allegations of electoral violence in order to ensure we can hold a peaceful general election come December 2020.
Also, there is an urgent need for the Electoral Commission in the area of strengthening their relationship with National Elections Security Taskforce, to ensure capacity building for members of the task force on regular basis. The Electoral Commission should also look to work with civil society actors and others to establish communication technologies that will serve as an alert mechanism for their early warning systems, which will feed the Commissions command post.
We also call on all Ghanaians to invest more in understanding the electoral process and their civic duty so that they can contribute in terms of citizens’ oversight role in the electoral process and avoid any tendencies to engage in violence and spreading inaccuracies.
Lastly, we call on stakeholders, especially Political Parties to bridge their gaps and avoid utterances which can lead to tensions and further post-election violence. No electoral contest is worth the loss of lives.
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