The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO)is pleased to release its second pre-election observation report, which captures key observations of the pre-election environment during the month of October 2020, ahead of the December 7, 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections of Ghana. The report is based on weekly reports filed by 65Long-Term Observers (LTOs) deployed across 65selected constituencies throughout the country. The observers have been monitoring the general electoral and political environment including the activities of key election stakeholders such as the Electoral Commission(EC), the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), political parties, the security agencies, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and religious and traditional leaders. Below are key findings from CODEO’s observation during the period.
Summary of Findings:
•Similar to CODEO’s observations in the month of September 2020, civic and voter education activities were generally low across the various constituencies.
•There continues to be generally low visibility of election support activities by CSOs, particularly those aimed at peace promotion.
•COVID-19 health and safety protocols were not adhered to during some political party activities.
•The National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) remain the most visible political parties in the constituencies observed as far as political and campaign-related activities are concerned.
Preparatory Activities by the Electoral CommissionObserver reports showed intensified preparatory activities by the EC towards the December 7, 2020 elections. Activities observed to have been undertaken by the EC include the exhibition of the voter register at district offices of the EC (for participants in the extended voter registration exercise1), recruitment/training of election staff, nomination of candidates, and transfer of votes/receipt of applications for proxy voting.
During the votes transfer exercise, which was carried out by the Commission from October 20-23, 2020, observer reports showed a generally peaceful exercise across the constituencies observed. However, there were a few cases of disturbances at some centers during the exercise. For instance, there was tension between party agents at the Builsa South constituency in the Upper East region over claims that some students who applied to transfer their votes to the constituency did not qualify to do so.
Civic/Voter Education Platforms/Modes, Actors and Targeted Audience
Observer reports showed a marginal increase in civic and voter education activities in the observed constituencies,compared to what was observed in the month of September 2020. The NCCE and the EC remain the leading institutions undertaking civic and voter education activities in the constituencies observed, followed by political parties and religious bodies. Very few civic/voter education and other election-related activities (such as peace promotion) by CSOs were noted in the constituencies observed.
Campaigning Activities by Political Parties
The NDC and the NPPintensified their campaign activities, such as rallies and party marches, over the period. At campaign activities observed, the main policy issues that were raised or discussed particularly by the NPP and the NDC were education, unemployment, and the economy. There was little visibility of campaigning activities by the other political parties.
While observer reports indicated a generally-peaceful electoral environment during the period under review, there were a few reported incidents of the use of abusive or inflammatory language, destruction or removal of party/candidate paraphernalia, and election-related violence. For instance, there was a violent clash between supporters of the NDC and the NPP at the district office of the EC in the Pru West Constituency of the Bono Eastregionduring the voter transfer exercise by the EC. This clash allegedly resulted in five people being seriously. In another incident on October 5, 2020 atAdjaraja Beposo in the same Constituency (PruWest), some supporters of the NPP allegedly prevented the NDC from having a campaign activity in the town. This resulted in a clash between the supporters of the two parties, leaving some wounded.
On Sunday, October 25, 2020, it was alleged that a courtesy call on some chiefs and elders in the Banda constituency by the Banda NPP parliamentary candidate was hindered by some youth in Banda Ahenkroin the Bono region. In reaction to the incident, some youth believed to be affiliated with the NPP allegedly vowed not to allow the NDC to campaign in areas believed to be the stronghold of NPP in the Banda Constituency. At the Odododiodio Constituency in the Greater Accra Region, scores of persons were reported to have suffered varying degrees of injuries after a clash between supporters of the NDC and the NPP.
Adherence to COVID-19 Health and Safety Protocols
With respect to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, CODEO observer reports indicate that few people adhered to the social distancing protocols and wore face masks during campaign activities and other activities by stakeholders. For instance, a rally organized on October 7, 2020 in Ahomahomasu in the Fanteakwa North constituency of the Eastern region to welcome the vice-presidential aspirant of the NDC was very crowded with party supporters flouting the required social distancing protocol. During the voter transfer exercise at the Akwatia district office of the EC, social distancing was not observed among some applicants and only few reportedly wore face masks.
Conclusions and Recommendations:
•CODEO once again condemns all reported acts of violence which took place during the period of observation. The Coalition again calls on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) and the Inspector-General of Police to take swift action against all perpetrators of such violent conduct.
•The Coalition reminds all political parties, party supporters, the Electoral Commission and all stakeholders to be mindful of the risks posed by the COVID-19 and ensure adherence to all relevant health and safety protocols to prevent the spread of the virus.
•CODEO further entreats CSOs and all stakeholders, including faith-based organizations, to intensify their election support activities particularly in support of peace promotion in respect of the elections.
CODEO continues to observe the pre-election environment and will share its findings with the public. CODEO’s long-term observation is made possible with the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
National Coordinator, CODEO
Dated: Monday, November 09, 2020