THREE CITIZENS PETITION UN TO ENSURE PEACEFUL DECEMBER ELECTIONS
Three Ghanaian citizens have petitioned the United Nations (UN) over what they say are threats to Ghana’s peace ahead of the December 7th elections.
The three, Elikem Kotoko, Stephen Kwabena Attuh and Issifu Seidu Kudus Gbeadese submitted their petition to the office of the Resident Coordinator of the UN earlier today.
In a well documented petition submitted, they expressed concerns over pockets of violence in the just ended registration exercise by the Electoral Commission of Ghana. They cited the use of military to intimidate residents at border towns and other places across the country including the unfortunate killing of 28 year old Silas Wulochamey at the Banda Constituency of the Bono Region.
The three, cites as worrying, the posture of the president of the Republic, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo including statements made on public platforms by him to the effect that he had received no reports of intimidations on citizens during the registration exercise thereby passing a clean bill on the tainted exercise that received several criticisms from a cross section of Ghanaians.
The three therefore called on the United Nations to engage political actors to ensure the sustenance of peace before, during and after the December elections. “... we petition your reputable and respected international organization of which Ghana is a member, to use all avenues possible to engage the political actors of the country to ensure a safer environment towards the upcoming elections and to ensure the sustenance of peace before, during and after the elections of December”, they implored the UN.
The full text of the petition reads:-
PETITION ON THE NEED TO ENSURE PEACEFUL DECEMBER ELECTIONS IN GHANA
Ghana, under the authority and supervision of its Electoral Commission, began the compilation of a new register of voters on 30th June, 2020. This exercise, was cleared to begin subsequent to a Supreme Court ruling of 25th June, 2020 which affirmed the independence of the Electoral Commission and granted it authority under the law, the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana, to compile a new voters’ register as and when the Commission deems necessary in accordance with the law.
Prior to the ruling, the opposition National Democratic Congress, and some other citizen of Ghana, prayed the Supreme Court to question the decision of the Commission to compile a new register especially that the same Commission had endorsed the credibility of the old register after it was used for the District Assembly Elections of December 2019. They also prayed the court to consider, if at all the Commission is granted the mandate to compile a new register, an order for the inclusion of the old voter ID card and birth certificate as means of identification which were excluded from the Constitutional Instrument (CI64) which was to guide the registration and conduct of the elections scheduled for December 7, 2020. In its ruling, the Supreme Court affirmed the rights and mandate of the Commission to exercise its discretion to compile a new register and further dismissed the request for an order for the inclusion of the old voter ID cards and birth certificates as means of identification as citizens to register for the purpose of voting in the general elections.
The tone was then set for the registration exercise to begin as scheduled for 30th June, 2020. A little ahead of the ruling of the Court and some few days to the commencement of the registration exercise, there were military deployments across some parts of the country. The Ketu South Constituency of the Volta Region, had particularly seen heavy military deployment which led to several calls for their withdrawal from individuals and prominent members of the Ghanaian Society. When these concerns continued to rise, Government attempted responses. Key of Government’s response is that the military deployment was to ensure border safety in the fight against Covid-19 in an attempt to prevent people from crossing from the other sides of the border, (https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/military-deployment-to-ensure-border-safety-defence-minister.html )
Amidst calls for the withdrawal of the military from border towns which had been cited as creating uneasiness for the citizens during the registration exercise, the Defense Minister was emphatic in his response on or about the 30th of June that the military officers will not be withdrawn, (https://thechronicle.com.gh/we-wont-withdraw-military-nitiwul-says-theyre-there-to-secure-borders/). The irony of that submission by the Defense Minister was that our neighbours, Togo, should rather be the ones concerned about securing their borders because the number of covid-19 cases recorded in that country at the time was about 600. Today, Togo still has a very low number of cases just above 1000 with less than 30 deaths compared to Ghana (https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=ALeKk03__eccReZkrl-gewsEkVoZifsvEQ%3A1597098811425&ei=O8sxX8-bGd6E1fAPs4y-qAQ&q=covid-19+cases+in+Togo&oq=covid-19+cases+in+Togo&gs_lcp=CgZwc3ktYWIQAzICCAA6BwgAEEcQsAM6BwgjEOoCECc6DQguEMcBEK8BEOoCECc6BAgjECc6DgguELEDEMcBEKMCEJECOgUIABCRAjoECC4QQzoHCAAQsQMQQzoFCAAQsQM6CAgAELEDEIMBOgQIABBDOgoIABCxAxCDARBDOgcIABAUEIcCUJqdB1jOyAdg5ssHaAFwAHgAgAGFBIgBpzOSAQwwLjEuMTMuNC4yLjKYAQCgAQGqAQdnd3Mtd2l6sAEKwAEB&sclient=psy-ab&ved=0ahUKEwiPpc3a2JHrAhVeQhUIHTOGD0UQ4dUDCAw&uact=5)
Prominent among the calls for the withdrawals were the Volta Caucus of the Minority of Ghana’s Parliament. As Members of Parliament from the Volta Region which had seen heavy military deployment, they called on the government to reverse its decision on the deployment and to recall the officers in order to restore calm among the people in the region, (https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/NDC-gives-24-hr-ultimatum-to-gov-t-to-withdraw-military-deployment-in-Volta-993442). The Member of Parliament for North Tongu and Minority Ranking Member on Foreign Affairs, the Hon. Okudzeto Ablakwa, added his voice to the calls for the withdrawal of military personnel from the Region in order for the indigenes to fully participate, (https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/Withdraw-military-personnel-from-Volta-region-now-Okudzeto-Ablakwa-to-govt-993430).
The former President who doubles as first president of the 4th Republic of Ghana, who coincidentally also hails from the region and from a constituency that shares border with the Ketu South Constituency, His Excellency Jerry John Rawlings, added his voice to calls for the withdrawal of officers from the region as their presence creates tension among the people, (https://www.graphic.com.gh/news/general-news/military-deployment-in-volta-and-oti-regions-generating-animosity-rawlings.html).
While many try to grapple with the explanations of government to the effect that the deployment of military officers was mainly to man our borders as government strengthens its fight against coronavirus, the Hon. Member of Parliament for Adanse Asokwa, Kobina Tahir Hammond (K.T. Hammond) made public statements to the effect that the military deployment were meant to prevent foreigners from registering in the voter registration exercise. He was particular on the Volta Region which according to him, had had people of same ethnic origin living within and outside Ghana for which reason the military was deployed to prevent entry into Ghana during the voter registration exercise, (follow link for full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFzHqkkYpJw). We must emphasize however, that government dissociated itself from the comments of the Hon. K.T. Hammond.
Subsequently, MPs for the Volta Region toured the region particularly Ketu South and its environs to ascertain for themselves, the situation which had led to indigenes asking for the withdrawal of armed military officers in the area, (https://www.myjoyonline.com/news/volta-region-mps-storm-ketu-south-over-military-intimidation/). It is important to emphasize also, that, the Ketu South Constituency, has over the years, recorded high voter turnouts that has been the subject of concern for the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).
A prominent member of the party and a nephew to the President, Mr. Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko has had this to say on his social media handle 1. “Ketu South constituency has 149, 219 registered voters. Dome Kwabenya follows with 144, 624 registered voters, with Ledzokuku, 142, 995 and the Ablekuma Central, 137, 154.” Discuss the economic and/or social activities which give Ketu South the largest electoral roll in Ghana”. 2. “Out of Ghana’s 275 constituencies, Ketu South is the most populous constituency in Ghana in terms of the number of names on the electoral role. Why and How? Discuss...” (https://twitter.com/gabbydarko/status/1265035797348130816?lang=en, https://twitter.com/gabbydarko/status/1265008984454545409?lang=en).
These comments attracted several controversial responses on social media which some had linked to fit into the revelations made by the Hon. K.T. Hammond in the video link provided above and the further deployment of uniformed men to the Volta Region particularly Ketu South.
The Ketu South Constituency, has been a traditional seat for the National Democratic Congress. In the interim, the seat promises to remain with the NDC. What is of great concern to the NPP is the number of votes it adds to the national election results in the Presidential Elections. The 2016 elections, According to the Electoral Commission, registered a total voter turnout of 76,009 at Ketu South (https://ec.gov.gh/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/2008-Presidential-Results.pdf). This was a decline from the 2012 total voter turnout of 87,804, (https://ghanaelections.peacefmonline.com/pages/2012/volta/200/). This provides a clear indication of the voter potential that could come out of the constituency in the 2020 general elections. At the time of putting this petition together, Ketu South is considered to have registered over 140,000 turnout
The Leader and Presidential Candidate of the National Democratic Congress and former President of the Republic, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama visited the Constituency and the Region to observe the registration exercise which had commenced. While at that he visited the Agbogbomefia of the Asogli State and President of the Asogli Traditional Area and currently President of the National House of Chiefs, Togbe Afede XIV where the latter bemoaned complaints of intimidations on indigenes by the security presence in the region and called for calm in the midst of provocations and urged the people to ensure to participate in the registration exercise, (https://www.businessghana.com/site/news/general/217671/Mahama-calls-for-cool-heads-in-the-face-provocation). Tobge Adzonugaga Amenya Fiti V, the paramount chief of the Aflao Traditional Area, also in the Volta Region, had cause to also complain in a press conference and called on the President to call the military to order.
The Constituency and for that matter, the Region, had seen acts of intimidations, harassments and abuses during the registration exercise. A retired staff of the Ghana Armed Forces, Christian Humphery Kwaku Agbeviade, who is visually impaired was harassed and declared a Togolese on his way to Kpetoe to participate in the special voter registration exercise put in place at the Kpetoe District office of the Electoral Commission (https://www.bbc.com/pidgin/tori-53641238). There were several other videos making rounds on social media of several other harassments in the Volta Region over the period of the registration exercise.
The presence of Military at registration areas was widespread and beyond only the Volta and Oti Regions of Ghana. The Ellembelle Constituency, saw the Member of Parliament for the area, the Hon. Emmanuel Armah Kofi Buah, calling for the withdrawal of soldiers from the constituency whom he alleges were intimidating registrants at areas believed to be strongholds of the opposition National Democratic Congress, (https://www.myjoyonline.com/news/national/ghana-police-service-to-investigate-video-of-officer-slapping-woman-at-voters-registration-centre/).
One of the unfortunate incidents to have been witnessed is the killing of a 28 year old young man at Banda, Silas Wulochamey who was stabbed to death at a registration center over altercations between some New Patriotic Party (NPP) and National Democratic Congress (NDC) supporters, (https://citinewsroom.com/2020/07/bono-region-28-year-old-man-stabbed-to-death-at-banda/).
In the same Banda Constituency, a couple of days ago, there were videos of military officers at registration centers physically preventing people from registering by mounting blockades with their vehicles. In some of the videos, some people believed to be of Ewe ethnic extraction, were being prevented from entering communities including Banda Ahenkro to register for the purpose of voting in the December elections. From reports, these are individuals who have resided in the constituency for ages and had since participated in elections in the area.
Unfortunately, because no polling station or registration center is situated at their places of residence, they have had to travel to the nearest registration centers to register. Reports were that they were being prevented because they were branded non-Ghanaians by the mere fact that they are not currently located in their mother region which is the Volta Region, (https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/It-s-tribal-bigotry-Minority-on-alleged-exclusion-of-Ewes-from-voter-registration-1024780; https://www.modernghana.com/news/1020686/minority-drags-nitiwul-to-parliament-over-alleged.html). Meanwhile, the registration exercise one would have thought, was meant to register residents and ordinarily residents of areas across the country which qualified these settlers to register in the Banda Constituency where they live.
The Leader and Flagbearer of the NDC, while commenting on a video on his Facebook wall, makes the point that settlers who are Votarians (people from Volta Region) and non-Akans, have become a target for intimidation by the current government, (https://web.facebook.com/JDMahama/videos/290537158704652/).
While these reports of widespread intimidations were making waves in the mainstream media as well as Social Media, the President of the Republic, His Excellency Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, addressing Islamic worshipers in the Kumasi Central Mosque on Friday 31st July, 2020 after an afternoon Juma Muslim prayers as part of the Eid-ul-Adha festivities, made emphatic statements to the effect that there were no intimidations at registration centers across the country and that the registration had been smooth since it commenced (https://www.ghanaweb.com/GhanaHomePage/NewsArchive/I-m-unaware-of-any-intimidation-at-registration-centres-Akufo-Addo-1023730). This statement by the President attracted viral controversial comments on mainstream as well as social media with some disputing his control over the nation he governs since reports of intimidations and turning away of people from registration centers across parts of the country was common knowledge and widespread.
We believe that the incidents recounted above, are issues of serious concern and must be of great interest to the nation, the International Community, the Diplomatic Community and election watchers both within and outside Ghana. Unresolved electoral issues have resulted in violence across the continent. Any efforts at excluding a section of our population from participating in our democracy could spell irreversible consequences for us which is the reason for our involvement in submitting this petition to your high office.
We are therefore requesting:
Ghana is regarded a beacon of democracy in Africa. The nation had held seven (7) successful elections and is preparing for its eighth election on December 7, 2020. As political activities warm up, and having taken cognizance of the pockets of disturbances that characterized the just ended registration exercise, we petition your reputable and respected international organization of which Ghana is a member, to use all avenues possible to engage the political actors of the country to ensure a safer environment towards the upcoming elections and to ensure the sustenance of peace before, during and after the elections of December by having an eagle eye on Ghana.
We successfully submit for your attention
+233 24 470 5778
Stephen Kwabena Attuh
+233 54 734 9026
Issifu Seidu Kudus Gbeadese
+233 24 419 8031