Friday, November 28, 2008

Ghana Elections 2008 Related Violence Goes Down

There is an appreciable reduction in the number of election-related violence in the country, the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) and the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) have observed.

This was stated in their second report on election-related violence ahead of the 2008 general election.
The report covered the period between October 22 and November 6, 2008 and is a follow-up to the first report released in late October 2008.

It captures findings received from 25 observers deployed in 26 constituencies and the project is supported by the German Mission in Ghana.

According to the two organisations, election-related violence had dropped from 42 to 20 in 26 constituencies.
They said that relative improvement might be attributed to the peace educational activities that were ongoing on throughout the country.
"The attention given by the media and other civil society groups to the violence-prone constituencies carried in our first report may have contributed to the reduction in election-related violence in those communities," the report said.

According to the summary of the latest report, the Upper East Region recorded the highest incidents of election-related violence during the period, and that "the Bawku Central and Bongo constituencies in the Upper East Region are repeat offenders of election-related violence".

"In the Northern Region, the Yendi Constituency is increasingly becoming a hot spot. There is growing tension between supporters of the independent candidate and those of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) candidate in the constituency," it said.

It said the Tamale metropolis continued to be a volatile area, with reports of stockpiling of arms for election violence, adding that there was also growing fear of a spill-over of the Gushegu conflict into the Mion Constituency in the Northern Region.

The report indicated that the Odododiodoo Constituency in the Greater Accra Region was a potential trouble spot for election-related violence, explaining that "as a result of rapid changes in the demography of the constituency, with a high concentration of people of northern descent, there is growing fear that the several chieftaincy disputes (Abudu/Andani, Mamprusi/Kusasi) are being imported into the constituency by the new settlers from conflict areas".

It said the NPP and the NDC were the perpetrators and victims of election-related violence and that observations carried out in the 26 selected constituencies confirmed the potential for actual violence in parts of the Northern Region, as the various militant youth groups identified in its earlier report were still very active in the Tamale metropolis.

In its main findings, it said Bawku Central recorded the highest incidence of defacement of party posters and that posters belonging to the two main political parties — the NDC and the NPP — were the most affected.

"The most serious threat of violence occurred in the Tolon Constituency. A chieftaincy conflict, with political undertones, is brewing in the area," it said, stating that the Regent of Nyankpala, a known sympathiser of an opposition party, was suspected to be trying to install two sub-chiefs in two villages noted to be strongholds of the ruling party (Kpalsogu and Golinga) in the Tolon-Kumbungu District.

It said people in the two villages had vowed to resist the installation of the chiefs in their communities by the Regent and stressed the need for the situation to be handled carefully so that it did not degenerate into violence, given the history of politicised chieftaincy disputes in the region.

The CDD and CODEO, in their recommendations, called on the authorities in the Tamale metropolis to proactively follow up on the rumours of stockpiling of arms at Kalariga.

"The REGSEC and the Regional House of Chiefs should prevail upon the Regent of Nyankpala to suspend the installation of chiefs in his traditional area till the end of the year. The security agencies in Yendi should increase security patrols in the town and intensify the monitoring of political activities in the area.

"Joint police and military presence at political rallies in Yendi is highly recommended in the last days leading to December 7," it said.
The speedy trial of suspects, it said, would help build confidence in the judicial system, as the perception of selective justice was creating a culture of impunity, especially in some parts of the Northern Region.

It said the police should be seen to be enforcing the laws, particularly the issuance of permits for political rallies in the same area, and that the police must follow up on rumours and allegations, including those of vote buying in the Volta Region, investigate them and prosecute offenders, if any.

"We entreat the media to continue to put their focus on peace education as election day approaches. We call on all stakeholders to intensify peace education throughout the country, especially communities noted for election-related violence," it emphasised.

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