After closely monitoring the Akatsi by-election, i am persuaded beyond computation that there is nothing like Free and Fair elections in Ghana. I observed that there was wanton display of vote buying, abuse of incumbency, vote rigging and intimidation at most of the polling stations.

It is shocking to note that, the EC did not allow political party agents to authenticate the polling station results at the collation center (Akatsi College of Education) before the results were announced.

It is generally accepted that the most important elements of a free and fair election lie in the independence and impartiality of the electoral commission to monitor the efficiency, effectiveness, professionalism and transparency of the electoral processes. There were several instances where buses were arranged by the NDC to transport people from their villages to the polling stations. In most cases, monies were distributed to the electorates and were made to swear an oath on condition that they would vote for the NDC. The PPP candidate was also threatened by his colleague teachers and other influential people in the community to step down in order to save his job.

There is no doubt about the fact that, the people of Akatsi wanted an alternative and they were willing and ready to give PPP a chance except for the fact that, the PPP could not influence the electorates with money to buy their conscience. Even though the Akatsi seat has remained as one of the ?world banks? of the NDC since 1992, it is lacking in terms of development. Reports indicates that 96% of the people do not have potable water in their homes and apart from the main road that connects Akatsi to Aflao, there is no tarred road in the town and surrounding communities. Majority of the youth do not have jobs and have resorted to ?Okada? business.

It is therefore not surprising that there was voter apathy which resulted in a voter attendance of less than 50%. The low voter turnouts at the Akatsi by-election should be a cause for concern, if not alarm for all of us. It is the belief of most people that, this has even resulted in the election of an aspirant who does not have the support of the majority of the eligible electorates in the constituency.

The Electoral Commission and the National Commission for Civic Education has failed this country. In a country where 50% of the population cannot read and write, there was little education about the processes in the election, voting procedures and the contesting political parties and their candidates. A lot of the constituents wondered what was going on whiles some got the wrong impression that it was the District Assembly Election.

Even though we have managed to conduct elections successfully for about 6 times, we should not deceiving ourselves that our elections are free and fair. Elections in Ghana are just a shibboleth!

ARTICLE: PAA KOW ACKON

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