The NDC's Upper East Regional Secretary, Donatus Akamugri (left) and the party's Upper East Regional Communications Officer, Alhaji Ahmed Tijani Saeed (right), addressed the media in Bolgatanga

Ghana’s foremost opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), is hinting there is a plot between the country’s Electoral Commission (EC) and the incumbent New Patriotic Party (NPP) to rig the 2020 general elections and it is drawing the world’s attention its observations.

The NDC says both the NPP and the EC are exhibiting a ‘strange’ posture towards a voter register exhibition exercise being conducted throughout the country’s 275 constituencies in what gives its observers cause for alarm.

The exercise is said to be plagued with some challenges that have triggered nonviolent protests in some parts of the country. Those challenges, however, appear not to be the main concern of the main opposition party which, since 1992, has lost power twice and returned once from opposition.

The NPP, which was tossed into opposition in 2008 and came back in 2016, is reported to be absent at the voter register exhibition centres. And, according to the NDC, the NPP also has been silent about the challenges that have compelled the country’s electoral body to extend the initial closing date for the exercise, Tuesday September 17, 2019, to Friday September 20, 2019.

The umbrella party says the ‘unusual absence’ of the elephant party at the exhibition centres where political parties have been double-checking the voter register and its ‘strange silence’ speak volumes of something “fishy” in the closet as Ghana prepares for the next year’s polls. Executives of the NDC told journalists at a news conference in the Upper East region, one of the ‘umbrella strongholds’ in the country, about what they had observed at the exhibition centres.

“Mind you, the NPP, which is also a major political player like the NDC, is in government. And they are the people who have appointed the EC boss under bizarre circumstances. Apart from that, it is also bizarre [that there is no centre where] you can get the NPP represented.

The NDC executives say they suspect a plot between the EC and the NPP

“We have never had any exhibition or registration exercise, limited or open, since 1992, where NPP is conspicuously absent. Today, they have appointed their own EC and when you are doing exhibition exercise, NPP has no representative at the polling stations. If you the media would watch this exercise, go to the fields; no centre has NPP represented,” said the Regional Secretary, Donatus Akamugri.

Asked at question time what the observations meant to the NDC, Mr. Akamugri replied: “What this means to us is that there is something fishy because it’s something that we have never seen before. We are suspecting that there is a deal. There is something that is existing between the EC and the NPP which we don’t know. That’s why, just recently, the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, said he didn’t need the EC to win the election. Now, an exhibition is taking place. Their party is not participating. It tells you something. That is why we are worried.”

Illegal Documents being used at Exhibition Centres— NDC

Even before the exercise started, there was a shaky preparation. This also is according to the NDC executives, who, at the news conference, cited the challenges they said had beset the exercise.

They said the EC was supposed to make copies of the provisional voter register available to all political parties, as required by the country’s constitution, but it failed to provide the NDC with one even up to the fifth day of the exercise.

The EC, the NDC stated, also veered off the norm by, without the usual consultations with the country’s Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), unilaterally scheduling the exercise to last just one week. The executives said the party only realised, after the pre-exercise concerns had been flagged and raised, that the challenges observed at the exhibition centres would disenfranchise “a good number of voters” if nothing was done about the issues.

The challenges mentioned included use of illegal documents, delay in conveying registers to some centres, frustration of first-time voters, failure to capture some first-time voters on some registers at exhibition centres, assigning only one officer to two exhibition centres and difficulty in ascertaining actual figures of registered voters at exhibition centres.

“On the use of illegal documents, this case is seen at exhibition centres where the registers used are titled final registers for December 2016 but some names of those who registered in 2019 are found in these registers. These can be ascertained in Talensi, Nabdam and Bolgatanga Central constituencies.

“Non-capturing of most of the first-time voters in some registers at exhibition centres where the provisional 2019 registers have been provided has examples like Kapaniah Market and Biu Market Square both in the Navrongo Central Constituency. The lack of clear figures stating strength of the registers used in 2016 elections and that of the provisional registers of 2019 creates a problem of determining actual figures at close of the exhibition by the political parties,” the Regional Secretary explained as he elaborated on each of the said challenges.

The Challenges are Deliberate— NDC

Whilst affirming its belief that the challenges were devised to place the NDC at a disadvantage ahead of the 2020 general elections, the executives called on the EC Chairperson, Jean Mensah, to address the concerns.

“She is required by the 1992 Constitution to obey and operate according to the regulations governing the activities of the EC to ensure free, fair and acceptable outcome of the 2020 election results by all parties.

“We believe that the challenges are deliberate because if it is not deliberate, the EC Chairperson, who is aware that by law or the C.I. 91 she is supposed to provide provisional registers to the political parties for us to be able to monitor, would provide those materials. She is up to something that we don’t know. That is why we say it’s deliberate,” Mr. Akamugri said with emphasis.

The NDC had expressed confidence some months ago about winning the 2020 polls even if the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, himself was the EC Chairman. Asked at the press conference why the NDC was uneasy about suspected biases on the EC’s part under Jean Mensah, the executives said the statement was made in a context.

“I think that was said in a context because, all things being equal, people are angry with this party; so, definitely they would vote against them. That is what [the NDC] was trying to say. No matter what, if you don’t cheat at the final end, if you want to depend on voters, there are all indications that NDC will win Election 2020.

“There are all indications because when you listen to the people, you go to the market, you take trotro (public minibuses), you would hear the cry of the people. People are in pain. People are not making it. Things are very difficult for them. Three square meals are very difficult for the people. Our market people are crying; they don’t buy. If you go the markets, people don’t buy because, as you can see how things are going in the country, things are hard,” said the NDC’s Upper East Regional Communications Officer, Alhaji Ahmed Tijani Saeed.

“Jean Mensah,” added the party’s Upper East Regional Youth Organiser, Abraham Azumah Lambon, “is supposed to be neutral; but she is denying eligible Ghanaians the opportunity to be part of the voter register. That is why we are worried.”

Source: Ghana/ Adeti