Cool weather heralds Ghana polls

Nature herself smiled on Ghana’s sixth consecutive democratic polls currently ongoing across the length and breadth of the country, with two bouts of moderate to heavy rain along the coastal belt, especially in Accra the capital.

Residents of Accra received a heavenly package of cool showers in the early afternoon and around 7pm on the eve of the country’s 2012 elections.

And as if the creator Himself knows that most polling stations are in the open where people will have to queue for long hours to exercise their franchise on the D-day, the rain the previous night has brought a coolness to the entire electoral process as seen from the capital.

To show their determination to cast their ballots for their preferred Parliamentary and Presidential candidates, Ghanaians began forming long winding queues with chairs, benches, stones and with some even spending the night at their polling stations under mosquito nets, so they are able to cast their ballots early when the process began at 7:00am the day after.

So the day finally arrived and many have already cast their votes at the 26,000 polling stations in the 275 constituencies – the highest ever in Ghana after the creation of 45 more by the Electoral Commission.

So far, the process has been generally peaceful all over the country except for very negligible pockets of disturbances in some places.

At the polling stations visited in the Weija – Gbawe constituency, it was noted that there was a general delay in the start of voting as a result of the late arrival of electoral materials. Voting started in earnest at 8:00am at some polling stations, while the exercise took off at approximately 7:15am at others.

The worst delay experienced was at the Mount Zion Nursery polling station at New Gbawe, where Presiding Officer of split station B, Sebastian Amekah said the late arrival of materials, coupled with preparations for the exercise to commence, resulted in the delay.

At the same Mount Zion Nursery polling station. It was realised some of the electoral materials were wet when they arrived. This Amekah said, may have happened as a result of the rain the previous night. He however explained that no ballot paper was wet but only some declaration forms.

Presiding Officer of polling station A, Daniel Nkrumah, also said as many as three electoral officers had not reported by the time of visit at 10:47am, which also contributed to delay in the start of voting.

At both sides of the polling station about 150 people had cast their ballots at the time of visit, while 584 and 585 registered voters were expected to cast their ballots at stations A and B respectively.

In terms of security, all polling stations visited in the constituency were covered, except at the Ansong Senior High School (Top Base) polling station where despite starting on time (7:00am) no security person was on hand.

Both presiding officers for split stations A and B, Esther Afful and Joseph Nkrumah however said everything had been peaceful since the start, although they had communicated the situation to the security agencies and were expecting a security person to be deployed to the station.

According to the officers, 563 and 564 people respectively, were expected to vote by close of day while about 180 had voted at both ends as at 9:58am.

Interestingly, as many as four security personnel (from CEPS, Police, Fire Service and Immigration) were on hand at the Mount Zion Nursery polling station.

Polling agents of only the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) were present at all the polling stations visited. Agents of the other parties could not be found at all the polling stations.

By Edmund Smith-Asante

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