The first vice chairperson of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Mr William Kofi Dowokpor, has called for the enforcement of electoral laws without fear or favour.
“Most important of all, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) must live up to the mandate of educating the electorate on the essence of voting and why we must vote for credible, capable men and women to provide the leadership Ghana needs for transformational development,” he stated.
Speaking in an interview on the occasion of the first anniversary of the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election, which falls today, he pointed out that elections were the vehicles that drove a democracy.
He said for a democracy to be sustained, the integrity of the electoral process must be guaranteed to yield credible outcomes that were acceptable to all stakeholders.
Mr Dowokpor, who contested in the by-election on the ticket of the PPP, said while the Vigilantism and Related Offences Act had been passed to outlaw militia groups in Ghanaian politics, the will to implement the law remained doubtful in so far as the Ghana Police Service was controlled by the incumbent and party in power.
“Arguments have been advanced within and without police circles that the appointment of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) by the President, would always lead to control of the police by the incumbent and mistrust of the entire service by non-government stakeholders in every election,” he said.
He said Ghana also needed to learn from Kenya on the appointment of members of the Electoral Commission by advertising the positions and taking qualified applicants through an appointment process that involved all relevant stakeholders to reduce drastically, the suspicion of the EC body working in favour of the government and party in power.
“In the current impasse between the EC and some stakeholders over the proposed replacement of the voters register for the 2020 election, the real issues are about appointment of a new chairperson and commissioners by the President who would also be contesting in the election, even though many other reasons have also been advanced for the objection,” he opined.
He said as soon as the by-election was announced by the Electoral Commission (EC), the roads and streetlights that had been left in disrepair for over a decade in the constituency started receiving face-lifts and retrofitting, with a sense of urgency.
“The ‘cash and goodies’ that were spread to influence the votes to retain the seat was mind blowing. And the moving of the “entire” state machinery to pitch camp in the constituency to guarantee the win was incredible,” he said.
Mr Dowokpor said offences such as undue influence and vote buying, “to give or receive money or something of value as a means of inducing a person to vote, or not to vote in a certain way”, took place openly.
He said for those desirous of finding a lasting solution to election-related violence in Ghana, this was the time to focus on advocacy and ensure that leaders who sponsor political parties are held vicariously liable for any violence their hirelings unleash on fellow citizens.
He said it remained a sore point that the government decided not to implement some of the most important recommendations made by the Commission of Enquiry to serve as deterrent.
He said the government in its 29-page White Paper on the report, rather accused the Emile Short Commission which investigated the violence of failing to address its terms of reference. “The report failed to address the first and most critical of the terms of reference which was to make full, faithful and impartial enquiry into the circumstances of, and establish the facts leading to the events and associated violence that occurred in the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election on the January 31, 2019,” he said.