Monday, December 22, 2008

Volta chiefs petition over Togo border closure on Elections Day

Chiefs in the Volta Region have petitioned the government to refrain from closing the Togo Border during the presidential runoff on December 28, to avoid causing disaffection among the electorate.

President of the Volta Regional House of Chiefs, Togbe Afede IV, on behalf of the chiefs and people of the region said the House has received a number of complaints from residents who were unable to vote during the general elections two weeks ago as a result of its unannounced closure. It also left many ECOWAS travelers stranded.

The closure, at the instance of the National Security Council, reportedly left thousands of Ghanaians unable to cast their ballots in the December 7 polls, even though assurances had been given by the Interior Ministry three days to the polls that the country's borders would remain opened.

"What they are saying is that it is discriminatory and no Ghanaian can refute that. We have three main borders, you close only one. You do it not only once, you do it for the second time, I mean that shows some amount of disdain for a group of people. You are not concerned about their feelings, you are not sensitive to their feelings at all."

He told Joy News people have fears the government may visit them with another unannounced closure, for in the last instance neither the people nor the nation was given any prior notice.

Togbe Afede said the chiefs were yet to verify from the security authorities if the closure would be repeated, but they have fears their concerns may not be addressed since in the last instance, the authorities did not bother to respond to their queries for explanation.

"The last time when it was done before we reacted, nobody even bothered to react to what we have expressed as the concerns of the people so there was no point waiting. All Ghanaians should appreciate that things like this do not augur well for the peace and unity that we all are craving for.

He said border closures are not the only ways to deal with security threats, and an announced programme would have engendered transparency in the dealings of Ghana.


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