A group of Ghanaians calling themselves Concerned Citizens Living Abroad held a protest in New York City on Wednesday to endorse calls by the country’s largest opposition to reform Ghana’s Electoral Commission. The protest, which was timed to coincide with President John Mahama’s official UN address, took place in front of the main United Nations building as world leaders assembled for the annual global summit.
Speaking to our SaharaReporters correspondent one of the organizers, Kwame Agyemang Budu, said demonstrators were at the UN hoping to present a petition to the Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon.
Mr. Budu said that after deploying all manners of repressive tactics to quell legitimate protests in Ghana, it is time for the government of Ghana to be exposed to the whole world for its civil rights violations.
He noted that citizens have been barred from carrying on protests and were attacked by police during peaceful public rallies “can only be perceived as serious human and civil rights abuses.”
“When he was the ECOWAS chair, Mr. Mahama went to Benin and preached about the need for a new register to them. Now it is time for Mr. Mahama to take his own advice,” he said. He added that Mr. Mahama leaves little option to violence if he fails to order the creation of a brand new voters register.
Hopeson Adorye, a ‘Senior Communicator’ of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) travelled from Ghana to join the protest and warned Mahama’s government and the Electoral Commission about their abuses and repression.
He said that there would be a high likelihood for violence, in the otherwise peaceful country, if the 2016 elections are not conducted fairly. He added that the NPP is not going to resort to legal action, as in the last election, but would rather seeks to cure the malaise before things get out of hand.
“If they resist the new register, it must mean that they want violence” he said. “There should be a new register; if government is not ready for that then they should not expect anything better from us,” he continued.
“We will not sit down and watch the will of the people be stolen again,” Mr. Adorye concluded.
A few months ago the NPP made a call for a new voters’ register citing fraudulent manipulation and inconsistencies in it. Vice Presidential candidate, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, suggested that the party has applied biometric recognition technology to fish out thousands of Togolese names, and other ECOWAS nationals, from the national voters’ register. The NPP believes these names were injected into the national index by the governing National Democratic Congress working in collusion with the Electoral Commission (EC) to steal elections.
The EC has invited recommendations from the various political parties in a bid to improve the electoral process, but has not given any indication whether they are going to compile a new voters’ register before the general elections in 2016.