CODEO Fires EC Over Its Close-To-Polls Statement In Ayawaso West Wuogon By-election

Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has taken a swipe at the Electoral Commission (EC) over what it described as misrepresentation of contents of its Close-Of-Polls Statement on the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency by-election. 

CODEO said it does not rely on hearsay or uncorroborated third-party accounts and therefore was surprised at claims by the Electoral Commission over comments it made in its statement.

At a press briefing held in Accra to set the record straight, National Coordinator of CODEO, Albert Arhin averred that CODEO did not indicate, anywhere in its statement that the said shooting incident in La Bawalashie took place at a Polling Station as claimed by the EC suggest g that was what CODEO stated to have witnessed.

CODEO said, its observers witnessed the violent incident, including shooting incident, which took place in the La Bawaleshie area at East Legon but did not in any way attempt to link the Electoral Commission to the shooting incident, contrary to the EC’s claim.

“CODEO, in fact, pointed out that its observers “could not confirm the exact cause of the violent incident,”  Arhin said.

He mentioned that the Electoral Commission, also in its statement, denied that the violent incident which took place at La Bawaleshie affected voting.

“According to the Commission, the incident “did not in any way disrupt the conduct of the poll.” CODEO wishes to reaffirm its initial observation that, as a result of the panic and chaos emanating from the shooting incident, voting was, in fact, temporarily disrupted at a polling station close to the shooting incident. Indeed, a media report of an interview with the Electoral Commission’s own Municipal Director for Ayawaso West confirms that voting was disrupted for about 45 minutes in the wake of the shooting incident before normalcy was restored.”

CODEO however expressed grave disappointment in the EC for claiming that CODEO had suggested, in its Statement, that the presence of stationed security officers specifically or in and of itself disrupted the voting process. CODEO made no such attribution or linkage.

According to CODEO, its main concerns regarding security arrangements for the by-election were explicitly stated as: the apparent lack of proper security coordination for the election; the heavy and intimidating presence of security personnel at various polling stations; the display of a lack of understanding of the electoral rules and regulations by some plain-clothed (“non-uniformed”) security personnel; and the presence of MASKED “security operatives” at some polling stations.”

CODEO further pointed out that, its general observation about the security deployment for the by-election as stated in its Statement was not limited to stationed security personnel, but also mobile patrol teams.

Meanwhile, CODEO averred that irrespective of the incident at a polling station at the Prisons JHS Polling Station at Roman Ridge, where a stationed uniformed police officer was attacked for questioning and directing some plain-clothed security operatives at the polling station to reposition themselves, CODEO stands by the account of its observer and is ready to cooperate with the Electoral Commission and the security agencies to undertake further investigation into the matter.

He said CODEO did not provide an overall picture of the conduct of the polls apart from the main concerns regarding security arrangement for the by election, “most observers reported of a generally smooth voting exercise, including the smooth performance of biometric devices.”

The CODEO Statement further touched on other issues such as the presence of party agents at polling stations, and the generally-low voter turn-out which indeed has been confirmed by the EC’s official turn-out figure for the by-election at 19.83%.

CODEO also assured the Electoral Commission, election stakeholders and the general public that it remains unflinching in its commitment to impartiality, objectivity and neutrality and that, its sole interest in the country’s electoral processes is the promotion and assurance of electoral integrity.

He mentioned that CODEO’s observation efforts are aimed at complementing the efforts of the EC in ensuring electoral credibility and that in discharging this responsibility, CODEO has always endeavored to work cooperatively and in good faith with the Electoral Commission, as CODEO sees itself not as standing in an adversarial relationship with the EC, but as working, ultimately, toward a common end of ensuring transparent, credible and peaceful elections and election management in Ghana.

CODEO further reiterates the point indicated above that, its Close-of-Polls Statement which is typically released at the end of voting provides a snapshot of an election. Indeed, the CODEO initial Statement clearly indicated that “CODEO will continue to observe the counting and declaration of results, and will issue its preliminary statement in due course”. CODEO wishes to assure the EC and the general public that, in line with its standard practice, its final report on the election which will provide a comprehensive assessment of the by-election will be released in the coming days.


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