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Ghana’s Opposition Cries Foul Ahead of Sunday’s Election Run-off

Ghana's main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is accusing the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) of rigging the ongoing special election ahead of Sunday's election run-off. The NDC claims it will not allow the votes in the Ashanti region to be added to the results of the December 28 run-off election because of what it said are widespread irregularities. It said there has been an unexplainable significant increase of over 100 percent voter increase in the special election in the strongholds of the ruling party. But the ruling party dismissed the accusation as NDC politics of fear and deception. The special election is often held for those in the military, journalists and electoral officials. Anna Tetteh is the communications director of the opposition NDC. She tells reporter Peter Clottey that the party is suspicious about the irregularities.

"Remember that we had a special voting on the 2nd of December before the main 7th December general election. And there were certain numbers on the registers in that particular special voting exercise, and those numbers have been bloated considerably, specifically, in constituencies like Asokwa, Old Tafo and Suame. You have situations where the voters register has gone from numbers of 300 plus registered voters for the special ballot to 600, 700 and in some cases even a 1000 plus voters," Tetteh pointed out.

She said there seems to be a gross disregard for the electoral due process in the special vote ahead of the election run-off.

"What is even more disturbing in some instances, we are informed by our polling agents in Kumasi that the names of the people who are supposed to go and vote were not even on printed lists, but were hand written with pen and ink," she said.

Tetteh denied claims by the ruling party that its new get-out-to vote strategy is energizing partisans to massively vote in the special election.

"It's all well and good to talk about strategies and all that. But you either have a specific voters register or you don't. In the case of what has happened in Kumasi and in some cases you don't even have a print out of the register. You have people's names written in pen and ink and those people being entitled to vote. That cannot be the result of the get out to vote strategy that suggests serious irregularities on the part of the electoral commission," Tetteh noted.

She described as unfortunate the ruling party's claims of a new strategy ahead of Sunday's run-off election.

"Why is it that these things are only happening in the NPP strong hold of the Ashanti region? Why is it that this wonderful get-out-to-vote doesn't seem to have worked nationwide to increase the numbers in the special voting exercise? And why is it only in the place where they (NPP) are effectively able to control things almost totally?" She asked.

Meanwhile, the ruling party dismissed the opposition's accusation as without merit. Deputy information minister Frank Agyekum said the opposition needs to register its protest to the appropriate authorities for adjudication.

"It is unfortunate, but then not surprising coming from the NDC being at the forefront in accusing and condemning everybody in the run-off even to the first election on December 7th. They've accused everybody and has said that nobody was trustworthy, but they themselves. What we are realizing now and if you can recall, soon after the election we said that many of our people in our strongholds did not turn out to vote. And so that to us accounted for the less votes we got in the first election," Agyekum said.

He said the ruling party decided to change its strategy to encourage partisans to get out and vote for the party's success in the run-off.

"Soon after that (general election on December 7th) we did embark on a program to ensure that many of our people in our strong holds went out to vote. And that is what we are seeing today that in many places of our strongholds our message has gotten down to the people and they came out in their numbers to vote. The NDC has seen it and they are frightened and once again they are crying wolf," he said.

Agyekum dismissed the opposition's voter fraud accusation as crocodile tears.

"I wouldn't know who in the cue would vote for the ruling party or not. But the special voting yes is for this specialized group. But for any other person who on that day could give a reasonable enough reason that he or she may not be available could be allowed to take part," Agyekum pointed out.

He said there seems to be a significant drop in the support of its partisans in the last round of voting. Adding that that is what influenced the ruling party's decision to change its strategy ahead of the election run-off.

"What I can tell you is that comparing the 2004 figures to the 2008 figures, you would realize that in the Ashanti region alone, there was a short fall of over 600 thousand eligible voters who did not vote on December 7th. On Brong Ahafo region, the short fall was about 400 thousand. In the eastern region it was an equal number. So, many of our people did not vote because they thought it was a done deal and that we are going to win and so they stayed at home," he said.