Temper Flare at voters’ registration centre
The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has released a damning report about the ongoing limited registration exercise which calls for urgent attention.
The situational report, which was filed yesterday under the hand of its National Coordinator, Albert Arhin, among others, makes specific reference to violent clashes among party agents at certain registration centres which led to injuries and subsequent hospitalisation.
In one of such incidents which took place at the Kukuom Anglican Primary School Registration Centre in the Asunafo North District of the Brong-Ahafo Region on Friday, April 29, 2016 over the eligibility of a female applicant, the report said “the CODEO observer reported that cutlasses, stones, cudgels and other offensive weapons were brandished, wounding one person who was eventually taken to the hospital.”
According to CODEO, “The incident started with verbal exchanges between the District Chief Executive (DCE) for the area who happened to be at the centre and the NPP agents posted at the same centre over the age of a registration applicant.”
It also revealed that there were instances whereby party agents and party activists engaged in verbal exchanges and violent confrontations over the eligibility of registrants even after a challenge form had been filled in respect of the registrants.
At the R/C Primary School registration centre in Banda Ahenkro in the Banda District of the Brong-Ahafo Region, for instance, it observed that “NPP party agents’ challenge against some three registrants provoked a violent confrontation with suspected NDC activists in the vicinity.”
However, the police were said to have intervened and restored calm to the registration centre.
The elections monitoring group also observed the presence of unauthorised persons at the registration centres and the use of self-appointed guarantors could have possibly contributed to the several confrontations.
CODEO observers said they saw unauthorised party supporters and members of the public loitering around registration centres in different parts of the country.
Some of them were said to have closely positioned themselves near registration centres with the sole purpose of serving as guarantors for registrants who shared party affinity.
“For instance, at the Accra Girls Secondary School Registration Centre in the Mamobi East Electoral Area in Ayawaso in the Greater Accra Region today, Thursday May 5, CODEO observers spotted NDC-branded vehicles loaded with people who appeared to be serving as guarantors for would-be registrants,” it stated, adding that “at the R/C 2 Hwidiem Osuodumgya A JHS Registration Centre in the Santeagya Electoral Area in the Asutifi South District of the Brong-Ahafo Region, unauthorised persons had gathered around the registration centre ostensibly to vouch for applicants.”
The report also talked of abuse of the registration procedures since CODEO’s observers also reported instances whereby registration officials allowed people to endorse guarantor forms early in the morning and depart from the centre even before registration had commenced.
According to them, “These forms were subsequently used to support the registration of applicants.”
This incident reportedly took place at the T. B. Awakorme Registration Centre in the Avoeme West Electoral Area in the Ketu South District of the Volta Region.
CODEO also realised the inadequacy of registration centres in some densely populated areas, thereby hampering the ability of some potentially eligible persons to register.
“At the Legon Hall Registration Centre in the Legon Electoral Area in Ayawaso in the Greater Accra Region for example, CODEO observers reported long queues of hundreds of people waiting to register,” it said. With the registration team capturing an average of about 100 persons a day, the Coalition said “it was afraid that the EC may deprive some otherwise eligible persons from registering before the end of the exercise.”
It therefore appealed to the EC “to increase the registration centres in densely populated areas of the country to give all eligible citizens the opportunity to register to vote in the 2016 polls.”
They also urged the security agencies to apply the law rigorously in dealing with anyone who engages in registration-related criminal offences, reiterating its call on political parties, particularly the NDC and the NPP, to restrain their respective agents and activists from engaging in disruptive and violent behaviour at registration centres.
CODEO has also asked the EC and its monitoring teams to pay close attention to the conduct of registration officials at the various centres.