The National Democratic Congress (NDC), has withdrawn from the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election following a shooting incident.
The party has ordered all polling agents and observers from the area after consulting with its parliamentary candidate.
Some National Security Operatives are alleged to have fired gunshots at a polling centre a La Bawaleshie, injuring about six persons believed to be NDC supporters.
“In the circumstances, I have conferred with the parliamentary candidate and the leadership of the NDC. We have no option than to withdraw from the ongoing exercise,” the National Chairman of the NDC, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, said to the press.
Mr. Ofosu Ampofo said the party’s candidate, Delali Brempong, was basically being “held hostage” in the area.
He also said there was “serious intimidation” from national security operatives.
“We have seen people in the attire of national security almost ten at every polling station. What they are doing is shooting indiscriminately, attacking people and intimidating people… Some of our people including Sam George have been attacked.”
“As a party, we believe in rule of law. We’ve been in by-elections before and we don’t that we are in a war zone. But this by-election has been turned into a war zone. We cannot subject any of our members to danger because of the election.”
The NDC chairman said he had also been to visit some of the injured persons at the Legon Hospital.
“I have just returned from the Legon Hospital where six of our party agents and accredited observers were shot at. Some of them have broken bones; some of them are seriously injured. As I speak with you now, they are preparing to move two of the victims to the 37 Military Hospital.”
NDC to blame
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has responded to the development blaming the NDC for the chaos.
The party’s General Secretary, John Boadu, said the NDC was trying to scare people from voting.
“This is the impression our opponents want to create in order to scare people from going to vote. Other than that what is the problem? Our sisters and brothers on the other side always will want to create confusion. When they are in government it is worse and when they are in opposition they are more dangerous.”
The NPP’s candidate is Lydia Seyram Alhassan, the spouse of the late MP. She is viewed as the favourite to win the polls in a constituency that the NPP has dominated for the past two decades.
Withdrawal not official
Kwame Amoah, Greater Accra Regional Director of the Electoral Commission has told Citi Newsthe NDC is yet to communicate the withdrawal officially to the Commission.
He also said the EC still considers that the NDC candidate is still in the race because they did not withdraw before the start of the poll.
“Once the name is the on the ballot paper and he did not withdraw before the start of the poll, he is a candidate so obviously whatever vote that will be in his favour will be counted and announced.”
He however confirmed that the NDC has withdrawn it’s party agents from some polling stations.
Contesting the seat for the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is Lydia Seyram Alhassan, the spouse of the late MP, while Delali Kwasi Brempong of the NDC will be hoping to capture a seat that the NPP has held since 2000.
Also in the race are William Dowokpor of the Progressive People’s Party, (PPP) and Clement Boadi of the Liberal Party of Ghana.
The by-election is being held despite a lawsuit filed at the Supreme Court by the NDC Constituency Chairman against the Electoral Commission challenging the January 31, 2018 date set for the by-election.
According to the suit, which has the EC and the Attorney General as defendants, the 31st January 2019 date exceeds the 60-day period within which by-elections to be held after the demise of a sitting MP by the Constitution.
Frustrations and denials
The NDC has already expressed its disappointment with the way the EC is handling the upcoming Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election.
The opposition party has also criticised the leadership of the EC Chairperson Jean Mensa, saying she may jeopardize the credibility of the election.
The NDC claims the EC has not provided a credible register for the by-election which is slated for slated for Thursday, January 31, 2019.
The EC said it will use the 2016 voters’ register to conduct the election and denied that the register was bloated.
The NDC earlier petitioned the EC to provide it with a credible voters’ register ahead of the poll.
The EC has asked the general public to ignore images circulating on social media purported to be ballot papers for the by-election.
It said in a statement that these widespread ‘fake’ ballots have been designed by some” mischievous members of society who have planned to spread fake news and videos in order to create fear and panic and cause disaffection for the Electoral Commission”.
According to the EC, no individual should pay attention to the ballots as they bear the Charlotte Osei logo it dumped at the latter part of 2018.
“The purported images are fake and should be disregarded by well-meaning Ghanaians. The so called ’ballots’ bear the old logo of the Commission which was discarded by the Commission last year. The new logo, which is on the surface of the authentic ballots, bears the Coat of Arms of the State, an eagle, a ballot box and a hand casting its vote. The alleged logo displayed on the ballots in the photos being circulated is not the logo of the Electoral Commission”.
“The Electoral Commission remains committed to conducting credible, transparent and fair elections that will uphold the sovereign will of the people”, the EC concluded.
Ahead of today’s polls the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), has also deployed a total of 30 observers to observe randomly selected polling stations across the various electoral areas in the constituency.
Meanwhile, the police have said they will ensure a peaceful election.