4 December 2012

Ghana: 'Tight Security in Ashanti On Election Day

Kumasi — The Security Task Force in the Ashanti Region has assured residents that it was in control and would want to perfect its achievements so far, towards maintaining peace and order, and that anybody who dared the security during voting would be dealt with ruthlessly.

The Task Force has also sent a word of caution to political parties in the region that any member of the public who wants to make its work difficult would be severely dealt with.

The Chairman of the Security Task Force, DCOP Augustine Gyennin, said the security services had sworn to protect the sovereignty of the country, and were prepared to ensure that the election is conducted in a peaceful atmosphere, without any intimidation.

DCOP Gyenin, who is also the Ashanti Regional Police Commander, noted that Friday's elections need to be conducted in a very peaceful manner, and that anyone who tries to endanger the process would not be spared.

"I want to make it clear that anyone who tries to dare us (security) will be dealt with ruthlessly," he told representatives of the various political parties and the Electoral Commission at a meeting in Kumasi yesterday.

The position of the security was spelt out when Mr. F. F. Antoh, the Ashanti Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), objected to a plea that people should not come close to the polling station.

DCOP Gyennin also pleaded with voters to leave the scene after voting, and come back at the close of the exercise, and that those who wanted to stay could do so only by keeping a distance of 500 metres away from the polling station.

He said the security would embark on a special exercise for motorbike riders in the days ahead of the election, amid intensive patrolling.

DCOP Gyennin said riders of licensed and unlicensed motorbikes dare not come to misbehave on voting day.

He said those who fall foul with the law would be dealt with purely on criminal grounds, than on political lines.

The police chief said the Security Task Force would replicate simulation exercises to alert the public of its readiness to combat crime and irresponsible acts by trouble makers.

He cautioned the media against the raising of unnecessary alarms, adding anything not based on facts, should not be put in the public domain to create unnecessary tension.

But, Mr. Antoh disagreed with the Task Force prohibiting people on the election day, saying unless a law prohibits movement of voters on election day, they should remain at polling stations within the confines of the law to protect ballot boxes through vigilance.

According to the NPP Chairman, it was the duty of the security forces to maintain peace and order, while the citizenry complemented their efforts by being vigilant.

Mr. Antoh raised concerns about the snatching of ballot boxes, saying it was only in the Ashanti Region that such a practice occurred.

He said the security agencies had always given similar assurances in the past without any positive results, and called on party supporters in the region not to be intimidated.

Meanwhile, Lt. Col. S. W. K. Pardey, Officer Commanding the Northern Command of the 4BN and member of the Security Task Force, has appealed to voters to be reasonable and observe the election regulations, since everybody was a stakeholder in ensuring the success of the polling exercise.

He said for the elections to be successful, it must be peaceful, hence the need for all voters and non-voters to behave as responsible and reasonable people.

"Ashanti Region should not be turned into a battle ground," he said, adding that in spite of past experiences, the security forces would do what it takes to maintain peace and order by protecting the citizenry on Election Day.

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