The Electoral Commission has rejected and described some observations of the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) as far as the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election was concerned, as “untrue”.
At a post-by-election press conference at the EC’s headquarters on Friday, 1 February 2019, the Chairperson of the election management body, Mrs Jean Mensa, said: “On the allegation of the shooting incident at the La-Bawaleshie area, the Commission rejects the attempts by the report of CODEO to link the Electoral Commission to the alleged incident at the private residence of the parliamentary candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
“The Commission wishes to state that the said shooting incident did not take place in any of the polling stations in the Constituency, and, therefore, did not, in any way, disrupt the conduct of the overall poll. In this respect, the Commission strongly dissociates itself from the alleged acts of violence that occurred at the La-Bawaleshie area”.
On CODEO’s observation that the presence of armed security officials intimidated voters at the various polling stations, Mrs Mensa said: “We wish to reject the assertion that the presence of unarmed security, Immigration and Fire Service officials, disrupted the conduct of the polls.
“It is important to stress that none of the EC’s security officers in any of the 137 polling stations across the Constituency, was armed, giving voters the free will to exercise their right to vote.
“Indeed, these security officers were positioned far well away from the booths, and did not in any way in the opinion of the commission, serve as intimidation to incoming voters”, she said.
As far as CODEO’s report that a police officer was attacked by some National Security operatives is concerned at the Prisons JHS polling station, Mrs Mensa responded thus: “The Commission wishes to state that the alleged attack on a police officer by National Security personnel, as stated in the CODEO report, is untrue.
“The Commission’s check with its election officials; that is the Presiding Officers at the polling stations as well as the District Electoral Officer in charge of the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency, goes contrary to CODEO’s assertion.
“The Commission, therefore, condemns in no uncertain terms, attempts by sections of the society to link it with the alleged acts of violence. As a Commission, our focus and our mandate is to conduct credible, transparent, fair elections that will uphold the will of the people as witnessed in all 137 polling stations at the Constituency”.
She said: “The Commission abhors any form of violence in elections and condemns the act of violence that took place at the private residence of the parliamentary candidate of the National Democratic Congress.
“As a Commission, we see elections as a simple process that affords voters the free will in selecting their leaders in an atmosphere of peace. We, therefore, one again wish to dissociate ourselves from any acts of violence and to state that our security personnel who were deployed to the 137 polling stations, were peaceful and did not engage in any acts of violence or any misconduct to mar the poll”.