Ghana’s Electoral Commission says it is worried the country’s media may call the results of this year’s December 7 general elections ahead of its official results, warning it could disrupt the credibility of the polls.
This and other issues the Commission says, has the ultimate potential of triggering electoral violence if not addressed ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections, which is 31 days away.
“One of the greatest challenges we face going into this election is the potential for the media to call the results ahead of the EC. Before we call the results, we have to make sure the results are accurate,” the Commission’s chairperson Mrs Charlotte Osei has said.
She said this while speaking on the topic “Ghana’s 2016 Elections: Processes and Priorities of the Electoral Commission” at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) in London.
“We’re also worried about the abuse of social media; if people start sending stories that are not true that could cause chaos and we may not have enough time even for the security agencies to react to this and correct before some damage is done,” she noted.
The Commission, she said, needs to work closely with the various political parties and stakeholders to let them understand the inherent risk of these issues, which she described as “untoward”.
“It has consequences for all of us and not just the EC. The future of our country is at stake,” she pointed out.
Credible polls guaranteed
That, notwithstanding, Mrs Osei maintained the EC is resolute and poised to deliver on its mandate by ensuring credible and peaceful elections.
“We are resolute at the EC that we will deliver good elections this year. We are very confident that we will succeed. We have history and experience on our side and we have a reputation of delivering elections in Africa,” she said.
The Commissioner added: “I’m convinced that all the reforms we have embarked on have strengthened and modernised our process and the institution, so come December 7, I’m certain that Ghana will have very successful elections to the admiration of the entire continent”.
Violent attacks on EC
Meanwhile, Mrs Osei has expressed concern about violent attacks on some of its offices and personnel, indicating that these incidents have stalled progress of work in the affected areas.
“There have been instances of violent attacks on some properties and officials of the EC this year during the limited voter registration and transfer exercises and its getting difficult to send staff out after those incidents to continue the work, and so, some of these activities have been disrupted in the districts,” she revealed.
According to Mrs Osei, there have been a lack of criminal prosecution, something she observed “emboldens perpetrators to continue” with such violence.
“We’re working closely with security agencies to treat electoral offences as criminal offenses and with all the seriousness that it deserves in the interest of the entire country” she assured.
Electoral violence flashpoints
She further touched on areas identified as possible violent flashpoints.
“We have identified about 81 constituencies that are flashpoints for violence. The police has also identified over five thousand polling stations as hotspots so we have been working with the police to engage the political parties to come down on the violent rhetoric, act more responsibly so that we can all have peace before, during and after the elections”.