Calm has reportedly returned to Ghana’s northern region after supporters of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) clashed. This comes after partisans of the opposition NDC claimed they were provoked by supporters of the ruling party on their way to a campaign event for this year’s general elections. The police have reportedly arrested and have released over 40 suspects who allegedly went on a rampage destroying properties.
Some political analysts believe this year’s election would be fiercely contested with recent polls showing no clear winner and a possible run-off. Ben Ephson is a pollster and the managing editor of the Daily Dispatch, an independent newspaper. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from Ghana’s capital, Accra that the clashes between the two opposing parties were contemptible.
“I think that these things are bound to happen once in a while. The clash between the NDC and NPP supporters in the northern part of the country was a bit unfortunate. Hitherto, most of the violence has been intra-party more of within the NPP regarding primaries to select candidates. So, I believe that it is under control, but these things will happen once in a while. With the arrest of 40 suspects, they’ve been bailed anyway. But I think people will be very careful about what they do,” Ephson pointed out.
He said Ghanaians would be tolerant of each other during the general election.
“Oh yes, I think that the tolerance levels are there. For me the 2000 elections were the toughest and the most tensed, and Ghanaians passed through it quietly and I think this will also come to pass,” he said.
Ephson said Ghana’s Electoral Commission was proactive in addressing allegations of a bloated register ahead of the general election.
“Well, the NDC raised the alarm. There was a hard copy they had collected from the electoral commission, issues of disparity in figures. So, the electoral commission set up a seven-member committee, which actually investigated it, and I think that the report is out. And yes the point is that the hard copy contained some abnormal figures, but the database from which the hard copy was generated is intact,” Ephson pointed out.
He said the move by the opposition NDC is an eye opener for all stakeholders in the election should be cautious.
“I mean one thing is clear, it tells everybody to be on the look out, and everybody top be more vigilant because this is the fifth elections since the 1992 fourth republic. The NDC has won two and the NPP has won two, and this year is going to be quite tensed, but it looks like it would be very close,” he said.
Ephson reiterated how vigilant Ghanaians would be in this year’s general election.
“This would be the most vigilant since the last five elections. It would be the most watched, and most carefully followed elections within the political parties,” Ephson noted.
He said it would be difficult for any of the political parties to attempt to rig the upcoming vote.
“I think that if you are going to play games then you open yourself for games to be played against you. I believe that clearly the hard copy generated from this and the problems, it is going to be hard for any party both the opposition NDC and the ruling NPP to kind of rig. It is going to be very difficult,” he said.
Ephson said recent polls suggest there would be a possible run-off in this year’s election.
“I think that we’ve done quite a number of polls. We are doing our second major one for the year. If elections were held today as I speak to you, in June, I think there would be a run-off. Ask me who will win it would be difficult, but there would be a run-off clearly. But it is about six more months to the election and if you ask me this question in October, I would be able to tell you,” Ephson pointed out.