The attempt by Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new voters’ roll ahead of the country’s general election in December, which lasted from June 30 to Aug. 9, has been met with violence.
The 38-day registration exercise and two days of mop-up witnessed two deaths with several acts of violence across the country involving supporters of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).
A clash between supporters of the two largest political parties in the country on Aug. 8 resulted in the death of one person at Nkrankwanta, a town in the Bono Region.
Two persons, who sustained gunshot wounds and were in critical condition, were said to be receiving treatment at the Dormaa Ahenkro Presbyterian Hospital.
Member of Parliament (MP) for Dormaa West Constituency Halidu Ali Maiga told local media that the deceased was hit by a stray bullet fired by security personnel who were deployed to the scene to maintain law and order.
Images shared on social media captures two vehicles and a motorbike razed down by the rampaging youth. Tension, over the weekend, was quite high and security has been beefed up in parts of the town and adjoining communities in the area.
Earlier on July 13, a 28-year-old teacher who graduated from college recently was stabbed to death at Banda, a border town in the Bono Region.
Micah Perdjo, the younger brother of the deceased, told local media that his brother died without saying a word to him.
“The doctors did their best but they said the knife would have affected his lungs and there was not much they could do when he was brought to the hospital,” he said.
In the Awutu Senya East Constituency of the Central Region, a clash between supporters of the two main political parties nearly halted the process at a registration center.
Cabinet Minister and MP for the area Hawa Koomson admitted to firing gunshots at the scene. Her action was widely condemned by the public.
Even though nobody lost the life during incident, properties including vehicles and motorbikes were burnt down.
Five persons, the police say have been processed and are currently facing the court over the incident.
Similar politically orchestrated violence was reported in the Ashanti, Ahafo, and Volta and in the Greater Accra Regions.
Several notable individuals and civil society groups condemned the acts of violence that characterized the exercise.
The country’s electoral body condemned such unruly acts and asked the political parties to use the processes put in place to have their grievances addressed instead of resorting to violence.
Former president, and NDC candidate for this year’s presidential election, John Dramani Mahama on Sunday described the exercise as the most violent ever in the country.
“People are running rampage and we have just seen this recent registration exercise where thugs go and try to prevent people from registering, they go and cause confusion at the polling centers in order to disrupt the process and they get away with it,” he stated.
The Ghana Catholic Bishops Conference also expressed concern about the recent violence in the voter registration exercise and urged political parties to abide by the country’s electoral laws.
As at the close of registration, the EC said some 16.6 million people, which is a provisional figure, were registered during the period.
The West African country returned to democratic rule on January 7, 1993, and will hold its eighth general election on December 7 to elect a president and 275 parliamentarians.
The sitting President, Akufo-Addo, who defeated John Mahama in the 2016 race is contesting the same opponent who had earlier won against him in the 2012 presidential election.
The stakes in the country’s December polls are quite high and political watchers say the acts of violence that characterized the just-ended voters’ registration exercise is a foretaste of what would happen in the general election if adequate measures are not put in place.