Ghana will today (Friday) close its borders with three neighboring countries ahead of Sunday's election run-off. According to the Ghana's national security secretariat, it was imperative that the country closes it borders with Ivory Coast, Togo and Burkina Faso to address any security concerns. But some chiefs in the Volta Region, close to the border with Togo have reportedly expressed stiff opposition to the move, claiming President John Kufuor's government failed to consult them before deciding to close the borders.
Sunday's run-off election is between the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) after either party failed to garner over 50 percent minimum votes required to win the December 7th general election. Kweku Baako is publisher and editor in chief of the Crusading Guide Newspaper. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital Accra that the security agencies want to ensure peace and stability during Sunday's run-off election.
"There is a statement issued by the National Security Coordinator, which reads, The National Security Council Secretariat announces for the information of the general public that in the interest of national security, Ghana's borders with the Republics of Togo, Cote D'ivoire and Burkina Faso would be closed from today Friday 26th December 2008 to 6am on Monday 29th December 2008. The public is hereby advised to take note and signed by Dr. Sam G. Amoo," Baako noted.
He said although no specific reasons were given for closing the borders, this would not be the first time the government has taken such a decision ahead of any security matters.
"Prior to the December 7th general election, the Togo border was closed. It wasn't the first time that the Togo border with Ghana has been closed in the wake of an election or other national security considerations. But in the wake of that particular decision, there had been a lot of complaints particularly from some chiefs in the Volta region," he said.
Baako said instead of closing just the three borders, Ghana should have closed all of its borders.
"What is significant to this particular one is that this time round it is not just the Ghana Togo border that is being closed. The statement of course does not tell us the reasons except to say that it was in the interest of national security. But I believe that any discerning mind would notice that it was because of the December 28th election. There may be other security considerations, but I think that is the paramount one," Baako pointed out.
He said there were reports which suggested that some people were planning to employ non-Ghanaians to rig the election run-off.
"I say this because three or four days ago, the National Security Coordinator issued a statement to the effect that it had come to the notice of the national security that some Ghanaians were in the process of recruiting non-registered Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians from the sub-region to vote in the Ghanaian elections, and that is supposed to be an illegal exercise," he said.
Baako said although the election run-off would be closely fought, the momentum seems to be on the ruling party's side.
"Well, a closely fought battle and I think that is undeniable. But as you now, at the first round, Nana Akufu-Addo of the incumbent party led on the first ballot and the flag bearer of the main opposition party, the NDC came close second with the 47.92, an impressive performance by all standards if you compare their previous performances. But what is going on is that it is a more difficult task in my candid opinion for Atta Mills to win that is if you are looking at the trend. It is easier for Akufu-Addo to win than for Atta Mills to win," Baako pointed out.
Some political analysts say the decision to close the three borders before and during the December 7th elections has been found to be in Ghana's security interest. Both local and international observers declared the December 7th general election, transparent, free and fair, which met international standards.
Meanwhile, President John Kufuor is asking Ghanaians, the Electoral Commission as well as the two leading political parties to ensure that fairness prevails in Sunday's election run-off.