Minor problems during polling in Ghana's closely fought elections
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Ghana’s presidential and parliamentary polls took place on Wednesday with very few major incidents, according to a preliminary report from a domestic observer group. At polling stations visited by RFI in the Greater Accra area, voting went smoothly with isolated problems. The results are expected to be tight between incumbent President John Dramani Mahama and main opposition challenger Nana Akufo-Addo.
Fifty-five per cent of polling stations had no major problems, 44 per cent reported minor problems and 1 per cent reported major problems, according to a report from the 8,000-strong Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) monitoring group.
CODEO’s initial report was based on observations from the country’s 28,992 polling stations that had completed voted by 17:00 local time when polls were scheduled to close.
Voting in the western Jaman North constituency was postponed until Thursday due to “security concerns”, according to Ghana’s Electoral Commission. A community in the northern Lambussie-Karni constituency also boycotted the polls over a dispute about the constituency’s name, the Electoral Commission said.
Voting was generally calm and well-organised at polling stations in the Greater Accra area. “I feel so good and so proud of myself to be a Ghanaian and to be able to exercise my franchise,” said voter Ramatou, who works as a nurse.
“Elections are important because we have to choose our leaders ourselves, we have to choose people who we think are good to lead the country,” she added, after casting her ballot in the town of Ashaiman.
Five ‘Macho Men’ were arrested by police in the Tema West constituency, police said. The men entered the polling station and were intimidating voters. “When we came in and they saw us, they rushed out,” a police unit commander told RFI at the Comm 7 Datus polling station. So-called Macho Men, who are reported to be bodybuilders, have been known to operate as party political thugs.
Elsewhere, an issue with some voters jumping the queue led to police intervention at the Celestial School Complex polling station in Ashaiman, the presiding officer said. The problem was quickly resolved and voting continued in a calm and orderly fashion.
Outside the Old Fadama Police Station polling station in Agbogbloshie in the morning, a group of men were acting as self-appointed security. One of the group said they were there “seeing how people are voting” to make sure that nobody was forcing voters to “vote for this man, vote for that man”.
Besides these isolated incidents, voting at eight polling stations RFI visited was well-organised and calm. The longest wait voters experienced was two hours. The first voter in line at the Ridge Church School polling station in central Accra had begun queuing at 04:00 local time.
“Whoever they declare winner you take it with good faith, because in every game there must be a winner and loser – I don’t have a problem with that at all,” said Evelyn, who voted in Ashaiman and works as a teacher.
The Electoral Commission is expected to announce the results within 72 hours of the closing of polls.
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