Referendum: Investigate infractions – CODEO to EC

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The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has called on the Electoral Commission and the police to investigate “possible infractions” of electoral rules during the referendum on Thursday.

Several videos have been circulating on social media platforms showing possible infractions of electoral rules during the exercise.

According to CODEO, it is unable to authenticate the source of the videos, but are a matter of concern to the domestic observers.

“CODEO has taken notice of a number of videos circulating on social media platforms showing possible infractions of the electoral rules of the country. Although CODEO is unable to verify the location of the alleged infractions or the authenticity of the videos, CODEO strongly urges the EC and the Police Service to take an interest in these videos and conduct their own investigations to protect the integrity of the process,” CODEO said its report on the referendum creating six new regions in Ghana.

It also added: “CODEO has also taken note of the concerns raised by the Ghana Journalist Association (GJA) on restrictions placed by the security forces during the referendum exercise. This was reportedly done to protect journalists from threats of harm from indigenes. It is imperative that the GJA, the security agencies and all elections stakeholders revisit these issues following the conclusion of the exercise to ensure that constitutional rights are protected in the future to promote more transparent, peaceful and credible elections.”

CODEO therefore made the following recommendations: “CODEO is calling on the Electoral Commission (EC) to urgently look into the extremely high incidence of manual verification at the various polling stations where such developments took place, and the extremely high voter turn-out figures in some polling stations. This investigation must be done swiftly and the outcomes communicated to the public to promote electoral transparency and integrity.

“CODEO is also calling on the EC and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to ensure that any person–including electoral officials – found to have violated the electoral laws face the full rigors of the law. Until individuals are held criminally accountable for their actions, it will be difficult to deter the rampant violations of electoral laws which risk undermining Ghana’s hard worn democratic stability.”

The six newly created regions are Western North, Ahafo, Bono East, Oti, North East and Savannah regions.

Fifty observers of CODEO were dispatched to various districts and constituencies in selected regions within which the referendum on the proposed creation of additional regions was taking place. CODEO observers visited an average of four polling stations within their assigned districts in the course of the polling exercise. Observers spent between an hour and two hours at each polling station visited. Overall, the referendum took place in a calm and peaceful electoral environment. However, a number of electoral anomalies were recorded by CODEO Observers during the observation exercise. These anomalies raise serious questions about the integrity and credibility of the polling process in the observed polling stations.

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