REVIEW THE CONDUCT OF BY-ELECTIONS TO REDUCE INSTANCES OF VIOLENCE AND MALPRACTICES.PIRAN-GH
By-election by definition is an election held in an affected constituency during the life of a particular Parliament to fill a vacant seat as a result of death or resignation of the Member of Parliament. This singular act of replacing Members of Parliament under the fourth Republican Constitution has always been characterized by violence and other unlawful practices by the two leading political parties (NPP and NDC) in Ghana either in Government or in Opposition.
The gunshots, thuggery and violence in general associated with by-elections in the country are becoming one too many. PIRAN.GH wishes to draw the attention of the government of the day as well as all concerned stakeholders to the need to condemn in clear and unambiguous terms and act decisively depending on the powers vested in them under the 1992 Constitution to assure the Ghanaian populace of a ‘civil’ and violence free future by-elections. With a concerted effort from all stakeholders including political parties, we are certain that the unfortunate and embarrassing instances that have characterized our by-elections in Ghana under the fourth Republic will be a thing of the past.
We have observed a somewhat ‘powerless’ police force in matters in which political parties, especially the ruling political party, is involved. The examples abound and therefore, there is no need belabouring the point. The police force and the security forces in effect, appear weak in the eyes of the public. This is really serious and must not be allowed to continue. The National Security from our observations, is always perceived to hold loyalty to the government of the political party of the day and not to the citizenry per se, to the extent that units, divisional, district, and regional commanders all taking one decision or the other at a point in time to favour the politicians across the divide which is against the professional and chains of command in the service.
We, therefore, wish to propose that:
People should not be transported from other constituencies to perform one activity or the other in another constituency in a by-election in exception of national and international observers and accredited security officers who can be clearly identified by their name tags. Any additional security details should be communicated to the stakeholders more especially to the Electoral Commission.
The district security should take charge of all security operations to avoid cases of other security officers dispatched without the operations’ commander having any clue.
Under no circumstances should security officers detailed to police any election be hooded. By virtue of them being masked, gives an impression of people who have planned to visit violence on the citizenry and get away with it. The recent operation where sympathizers of a particular political party were identified as having been deployed to foil an alleged attempt being made by a certain group of people to disrupt the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election is fresh on our minds. The whole operation may not have followed laid down procedure. The Deputy National Security Minister was the one who claimed responsibility later for having dispatched the said ‘officers’ which was not known to the command at the police command at the time. We think the situation could have been managed better.
We even have doubt about the motive of dispatching hooded cops to an opposing contestant’s residence, a situation that dent the beauty of the electoral process and the country’s image internationally.
The withdrawal by the main opposition party two to three hours into the election because they felt that they were the main targets of the violence, took some shine away from the process. This obviously may have affected the outcome of the process quite insignificantly though, and conclusions arrived at by individuals and organizations that wanted to use the by-election as an indicator to measure the performance of the government and project how future elections will be handled by government and other state agencies.
We therefore blame the deputy national security minister for the disturbances and the violence during the just ended by- election.
Felix Djan Foh
James Kwaku Dumenyah