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Voters registration is like a nation embarking on a COVID-19 spreading assignment,- CSOs platform on Good Governance

The Civil Society Organisation’s (CSO’s) platform on Good Governance has described the ongoing voter registration exercise by the Electoral Commission as a nation embarking on a COVID-19 spreading assignment.

The CSOs said it was sad to observe that the assurances the electoral commission gave including having health workers on standby, provision of PPEs among others prior to the exercise have been largely disregarded.

The CSOs platform on Good Governance is a collection of NGOs based in Northern Region working on governance and human right issues.

It is made up of over 30 CSOs and state institutions.

Led by NORSAAC, the CSOs expressed worry regarding actions at the centres from the EC, political party agents and the general public that expose all to the rapid spread of the corona virus.

Below is the full report from the CSOs platform on Good Governance.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

PRELIMINARY OBSERVATION REPORT OF THE VOTER REGISTRATION EXERCISE FROM NORTHERN GHANA

The CSO platform on Good Governance, led by NORSAAC has been following keenly the on-going national exercise the electoral commission is undertaking in Ghana with special lens in the Northern, North East and Savannah Regions.

The mass registration exercise is to give all qualified Ghanaians new voter ID cards in order to give them the power to exercise their franchise come December 7, 2020 and in subsequent elections. We first of all commend the electoral commission of Ghana for the attempts made in almost all registration centres to ensure handwashing and checking of temperatures.

The platform also commends the general public in northern Ghana for comporting themselves during the first phase and second phases. All observers reported calm and friendly registration atmosphere devoid of violence.

The setups were also disability friendly in most cases. In some cases, the EC officials created single entry points to the registration centres. There was also good adherence to official start and end of the process.

The citizens of Ghana have indeed shown great interest in the process, demonstrating huge civic responsivity. The CSO platform on Good Governance dispatched a team of observers to visit 30 polling stations in 6 constituencies across three regions during the first and second phases.

In the Northern Region, the team observed proceedings in the following constituencies; Sagnerigu, Tamale Central, North and South. In the Savannah Region the team observed the exercise in the Damongo and Yapei Kusawgu Constituencies. In the North East Region the team observed the process in the Bunkpurugu and Nalerigu/Gambaga constituencies.

With deep sorrow, however, we cry out loud that the nation is embarking on a COVID spreading assignment. It is sad to observe that the assurances the electoral commission gave including having health workers on standby, provision of PPEs among others prior to the exercise have been largely disregarded.

There are worrying actions at the centres from the EC, political party agents and the general public that expose all to the rapid spread of the corona virus.  It was serious to observe that in almost all polling stations, majority of the registrants were not in any appropriate personal protective attire.

The electoral officers and security personnel in some polling stations were operating without PPEs, notable in the Tamale South, North and Gambaga/Nalerigu Constituencies.  In fact, there were some polling stations where the observers reported that no registrant was in nose mask or face shield at all.

A very serious observation was a case where a political party agent had one nose mask that was given to every registrant who was ready to be registered but had no nose mask.   The least talk about social distancing, the better.

All polling stations were akin to market scenes with some actually maximizing the opportunity of the crowd to do their business. The polling stations have also become rallying grounds for children who usually trace their parents when they miss them at home.

In summary, the electoral commission forgot that they promised to respect the extra-ordinary circumstances under which they are undertaking this exercise. Generally, our team of independent observers rated adherence to COVID 19 in the exercise as bad.

We project with some level of confidence that the voter registration exercise may end leaving at up to 1% of Ghanaian eligible voters contracting the CORONA VIRUS DISEASE. 

The platform’s interest in respect for democratic principles also revealed significant shortfalls. Aside the slow process that the issue of the guarantor has generated in all polling stations, it was found that over 60% of randomly sampled registrants in the three regions were not satisfied with the process at the close of the first phase of the exercise.

In the light of our observation during the first and second phases, we recommend the following moving into the next phase;

1. The electoral   commission must provide facemasks to all registrants who report to centres without one. Driving the registrants away will amount to denying them their fundamental rights to register.

2. The political parties must equally conscientize their agents on best COVID 19 adherence and their roles in curbing the spread of the disease at the polling stations.

3. Electorates must take personal responsibilities and take appropriate measures to protect themselves against the pandemic.

In conclusion, NORSAAC commends the media and other CSOs including the Media Foundation for West Africa and the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) for their interest in the exercise.

We advise the citizens to be responsible despite the huge negligence from the Electoral Commission of Ghana in the exercise. We should remember the battle with CORONA VIRUS is yet to begin and we must continue to take the necessary precautionary measures to stay safe. God Bless Our Homeland Ghana

Editor’s Note:The CSO platform on Good Governance is a collection of NGOs based in Northern Region working on governance and human right issues. It is made up of over 30 CSOs and state institutions. The platform will continue to provide alternatives to governments as a way of growing our democracy and also deepening the local governance in the country.

For more information call; Chief Convener of the CSO platform on Good Governance Alhassan Mohammed Awal, Executive Director of NORSAAC– 0501302997

Other Members: Hafsatu Sey Sumani-0501302999Issah Aminu Danaa-0501302993 Abubakari Kawusada-0501302998

Signed; Alhassan Mohammed Awal Executive Director awal@norsaac.org

CC: All Media Houses

Source: Edward A. Ken-Zorre | www.diamondfmonlone.com 

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