Akwatia re-run did not meet criteria for free, fair elections – CODEO
The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), said on Friday that the widespread harassment, intimidation and fraud it observed during the Akwatia Parliamentary election re-run, makes it difficult to conclude that it sufficiently met the criteria for free and fair elections.
“The Akwatia re-run elections confirmed once again the unrequited need for substantial improvements to be made in national and local level election security arrangements, especially the DISEC (District Security Council) and REGSEC (Regional Security Council), the conduct of political party officials and their supporters and civic/voter education.”
In a statement spelling out its observations for last Tuesday’s vote in Akwatia, it said the re-run provided “sober lessons about the length the country needs to go to ensure that the next polls do not turn nightmarish”.
CODEO noted that the Electoral Commission was able to administer the election up to the counting and declaration of results because of massive security on the ground.
It said scores of armed and unarmed security personnel were deployed at the polling stations and also in patrol teams.
“At each of the polling stations no less than 30 security agents took positions at various angles to protect the process.
“Though taunted and harassed at times, the men in uniform were firm in dealing with disorderly behaviour. They were, however, also criticised for not dealing more decisively with wrong-doers they had arrested.”
CODEO said though the vote was concluded and results declared in favour of the New Patriotic Party candidate, the electoral process before and during election day had been continually fraught with tension and violence.
It said during the campaign, the sound of gunshots was frequently heard from various quarters, adding that tight as the security was, party thugs were still able to foment trouble.