When Ghana’s polls close on December 7, all eyes will be on the country’s Electoral Commission (EC), as doubts are raised over the legitimacy of the presidential vote.
The leader of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Mahama, suspended regional campaigning in September over ‘widespread anomalies’ during the voter register exhibition process.
The former president, who ruled Ghana between 2012 and 2017, said thousands of registered voters were missing from local electoral rolls, adding that he had ‘grave concerns’ about the EC’s impartiality.
‘We will not accept the result of a flawed election,’ said Mahama, who is hoping to topple his successor, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), in December.
'Neither will we shirk our civic responsibility and allow the EC – whether by ill intent or sheer incompetence – to usurp the people's mandate in the December 7 polls.’
Mahama said the voter registration exercise had been characterized by ‘bigotry and exclusion’, with many citizens prevented from registering on the pretext that they were not ‘Ghanaians’.
‘These acts of intimidation were perpetrated by the state security apparatus, which is now filled with vigilante elements loyal to the ruling NPP,’ said the opposition candidate, comparing the current campaign to a by-election won by NPP last year, which was marred by election day violence.
‘These alarming warning signs do not bode well for a free and fair election.’
Mahama’s NDC have catalogued a number of incidents of potential voter fraud across the country.
‘In the Binduri constituency of the Upper East Region, many cases of omission have been detected,’ said the NDC leader.
‘At the Narang-Saago Primary School, not a single person out of 444 registered could find their names on the register.’
He alleged that the problem was widespread, with no names listed at two other registration centres in the area despite 428 and 392 people being registered to vote at each polling station.
There were also more than 6,300 names omitted from 18 other centres in the same constituency, according to Mahama, and 2,000 registered voters were missing from the electoral roll in both Jirapa, in the Upper West Region, and Klottey Korle, in Greater Accra.
Meanwhile, the sitting NDC MP for Ashaiman, Ernest Norgbey, claimed to have detected the omission of over 21,000 names from his local register, including his own – a claim refuted by the Electoral Commission.
As well as alleged missing voters, the NDC alleges to have identified cases of voters being registered multiple times. In Krowor, Greater Accra, it claimed duplicated card numbers were recorded at as many as eight centres, with almost 2,500 people allegedly eligible to vote more than once in the constituency.
The chairperson of the EC, Jean Mensa, has denied accusations that the election is tilted in favour of the incumbent, and said the commission was working to deliver free, fair, and peaceful elections in December.
She urged all the politicians to engage in ‘a decent campaign – a campaign based on policies and programs that will lead to the betterment of our society,’ and promised that, as ‘referees, our role is to arrange and organise an orderly, fair, transparent, peaceful, and credible elections.’
Meanwhile, President Akufo-Addo dismissed concerns about the registration process, which saw nearly 17 million Ghanaians – or around half the total population – registered to vote by the end of registration process in September. (More than 750,000 18-year-olds alone were added to the electoral roll this year.)
President Akufo-Addo said: ‘Each of the elections has seen an improvement on the previous one. And we are looking forward to this year’s passing off peacefully, with characteristic Ghanaian dignity.’
‘All Ghanaians are agreed that we have to work together to ensure that the elections will be transparent, free, fair, safe and credible.’
The December poll will be the eighth election in the West African state 1992, when the country’s Fourth Republic was declared.