The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), has called on the security services to intensify their surveillance of registration centers.
This is coming after reports of “disturbing developments” in the on-going limited voter registration exercise were received. According to them, these occurrences could mar the integrity of the registration exercise if left unchecked.
CODEO, in their situational report signed by its National Coordinator, Albert Arhin, noted incidents of extreme tension and violence at some registration centers. According to the reports, the tensions were usually caused by and involve party agents.
They indicated that their observers also reported seeing unauthorized party supporters and members of the public loitering around registration centers with the sole purpose of serving as guarantors for registrants affiliated to their party.
CODEO therefore urged political parties, particularly the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the New Patriotic Party (NPP), to restrain their respective agents and activists from engaging in disruptive and violent behaviour at registration centers. They also joined widespread calls on the EC to increase the supply of registration centres in densely populated areas of the country to give all eligible citizens the opportunity to register to vote in the 2016 polls. Below are the Key Points of the CODEO Report:
SECOND CODEO SITUATIONAL REORT ON THE ONGOING LIMITED BIOMETRIC VOTER REGITRATION EXERSICE
Based on reports from CODEO observers stationed in registration centers across the country, the Coalition has noted disturbing developments at some registration centers, which could mar the integrity of the registration exercise if left unchecked.
These developments include, but are not limited, to the following:
Tension and Violent Incidents
CODEO observed incidents of extreme tension and violence at some registration centers, mainly caused by and often involving party agents. One such incident took place at the Kukuom Anglican Primary School Registration Center in the Kukuom- Achiase Registration Center in the Asunafo North District of the Brong Ahafo Region on Friday April 29, 2016 over the eligibility of a female applicant.
The CODEO observer reported that cutlasses, stones, cudgels and other offensive weapons were brandished, wounding one person, who was eventually taken to the hospital.
The incident started with verbal exchanges between the District Chief Executive for the area (who happened to be at the center) and the NPP agents posted the same center over the age of a registration applicant.
Presence of Unauthorized Persons around Registration Centers and the Use of Self-Appointed Guarantors
CODEO observers reported seeing unauthorized party supporters and members of the public loitering around registration centers in different parts of the country.
Some of them have closely positioned themselves around registration centers, with the sole purpose of serving as guarantors for registrants who share party affinity.
For instance, at the Accra Girls Secondary School Registration Center 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.
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, unauthorized persons had gathered around the registration centre ostensibly to vouch for applicants.
Abuse of Registration Procedures
CODEO observers also reported instances where Registration Officials allowed people to endorse guarantor forms early in the morning and depart from the center, even before registration had commenced.
These forms were subsequently used to support the registration of applicants. This situation was observed, for example, at the T. B. Awakorme Registration Center in the Avoeme West Electoral Area in the Ketu South District of the Volta Region.
Densely Populated Areas
CODEO observers reported the inadequacy of registration centers in some densely populated areas, thereby hampering the ability of some potentially eligible persons to register.
At the Legon Hall Registration Center 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.
With the registration team capturing an average of about 100 persons a day, the Coalition is afraid that the EC may deprive some otherwise eligible persons from registering before the end of the exercise.
Misunderstanding of the Challenge Procedure
CODEO observers also reported of instances of party agents and party activists engaging in verbal exchanges and violent confrontation over the eligibility of registrants, even after a challenge form has been filled in respect of the registrants.
At the R/C Primary School Registration Center in Banda Ahenkro in the Banda District of the Brong Ahafo Region, for instance, NPP party agents’ challenge against some 3 registrants provoked a violent confrontation with suspected NDC activists in the vicinity.
The police was however able to intervene and restore calm at the registration center.
CODEO wishes to commend the security services for managing to bring under control the tension, chaos and violent incidents at some registration centers.
CODEO urges the security agencies to intensify their surveillance of registration centers, especially those with a history of violence.
- CODEO reiterates 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 centers.
- CODEO calls on the EC and its monitoring teams to pay close attention to the conduct of registration officials posted at the various centers.
- CODEO implores the EC to increase the supply of registration centres in denselypopulated areas of the country to give all eligible citizens the opportunity to register to vote in the 2016 polls.
- Finally, CODEO urges the security agencies to apply the law rigorously in dealing with anyone who engage in registration-related criminal offence. CODEO’s observation of the registration exercise is made possible with the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Signed: Albert Arhin, National Coordinator, CODEO