The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has denied claims by the Electoral Commission (EC) that its preliminary report on the by-election conducted at the Ayawaso West Wuogon constituency is full of falsehoods.
Chair of the Commission at a press conference accused CODEO of wrongfully accusing officers and security personnel who were deployed to monitor the by-elections on Thursday.
CODEO had criticised the Commission for the low turnout which they blamed on the presence of masked men at the polling centre and violence that characterised the polling process.
But the EC says it cannot be blamed for the alleged violence that occurred.
Jean Mensa said, “on the allegation of a shooting incident at the La Bawaleshie area, the Commission rejects the attempts by the report of CODEO to link the Electoral Commission to the alleged incident at the private residence of the Parliamentary candidate of the NDC.
“The Commission wishes to state that the said shooting incident did not take place in any of the polling stations in the constituency and, therefore, did not in any way disrupt the conduct of the overall poll.”
EC Chair Jean Mensa
The EC also said CODEO’s account of a police officer at a polling centre at Roman Ridge was assaulted is also untrue.
Albert Arhin, National Coordinator of CODEO, speaking on Joy FM’s Top Story said the EC’s response to their initial report is unfortunate.
He said there was no way CODEO would have included in their report an incident which did not occur at the polling centre.
“In elections, you cannot be at the same place every time...you are removing from place to place and sometimes the moment you move, something happens. So she should not dispute the fact that that [assault on police officer] happened.
“It should not be disputed at all. We train our people and we ask them to report accurately, so if it wasn’t said, we wouldn’t have said it in our report,” he added.
Mr Arhin said certain things went wrong during the polls and their call was for the EC to look into them to ensure that they are not repeated in subsequent elections.
These masked men are seen on video slapping Ningo-Prampram MP Samuel George
He denied that their report linked the EC to the shooting incident at La Bawaleshie. He said it was impossible for CODEO to comment or link the EC to the incident when none of its personnel was present at the location.
“Something went wrong somewhere and all we are saying is that in future, the EC should investigate and find out why these things happened the way they happened. I saw polling stations where guns were being fired and people were running helter-skelter.
“And in election administration, you don’t have these things happening because voters will be intimidated and when they run from where they came from other will not come,” Mr Arhin said.
He believes this development accounted for the low turnout at the polls – 19.33 per cent – stressing that it was necessary to remind the EC of these issues so that they can address it.
“CODEO stands by the account of the observers, we don’t tell lies,” he stressed.