11 December 2012

Ghana: How NDC Put Kumasi to Early Sleep

Kumasi — When anxious voters, most of them supporters of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), kept vigil on Thursday evening, preparing to cast their votes the following morning, little did they know about what was in store for them.

Queues started forming at the various polling centers as early as 1:00 a.m. on Friday, as many voters struggled to cast their ballots early, so they could attend to their businesses.

Voting began at most polling centers a few minutes after 7:00 a.m., with few reports of the late arrival of voting materials at some centers.

Though the exercise started on a smooth note, incidents of faulty verification machines and failure by the machines to detect the fingerprints of some voters were later reported.

Some frustrated voters had to leave the voting centers highly disappointed, because they could not cast their ballots.

However, the lucky ones found an antidote to the anomaly, after information came out that those whose fingerprints could not be detected by the verification machine could wash their hands with either coke drink or pawpaw leaves.

By noon, as the exercise was ongoing, reports of alleged attempts at ballot box snatching and double voting were reported in some parts of the constituencies across the region.

For example, in the Amansie West and Central constituencies, some individuals were arrested by the police for attempting to steal ballot boxes, but the most credible one was recorded at Ahwiaa in the Kwabre East constituency, where a known supporter of the ruling NDC, Yakubu Zeeba, suffered several cutlass wounds when he decided to pick a ballot box at one of the polling stations at Ahwiaa Zongo.

In spite of the hiccups recorded in some constituencies, voting generally went on smoothly till the exercise came to a close in the evening.

The city went into an early frenzy when results started filtering in from some strongholds of the party, as supporters in some parts of the city such as Adum, Asafo and Amakom, started jubilating.

However, by 10:00 p.m., the mood had changed to that of grim and morose, after information came through that some leading NPP members of Parliament (MPs) were losing their seats.

By Saturday morning, the city was very calm, as radio and television projections gave a slight lead to the NDC presidential candidate, John Dramani Mahama.

The usually busy streets in Asafo, Amakom and Adum became relatively silent, as supporters anxiously waited for results from the remaining constituencies.

The atmosphere lightened a little bit when the General Secretary of the NPP, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, held the infamous press conference and announced that the party was leading, according to their own figures collated, but it was shortlived, as projections by TV and radio stations remained unchanged.

The morbid mood continued into Sunday, where there were reports of low attendance in churches.

The usual Sunday morning 'TZ and Emo tuo' delights were also poorly patronised in many food joints in the metropolis.

By the close of Sunday, as the majority of the constituencies had been counted and NDC was still leading, supporters of the ruling party became visible on the streets, waving party flags and hooting, in anticipation of victory.

However, some courageous supporters of the NPP clung on to a little hope, as information came that the NPP leadership had detected some anomalies in figures being presented, and was preparing to meet the EC to correct them, and possibly push the election to a run-off.

When the Chairman of the EC finally announced the results, supporters of the ruling party, as expected, poured onto the streets in jubilation, amidst hooting, drumming and dancing.

At places like Aboabo, Tafo and Asawase, which have large Zongo communities, the jubilation travelled deep into the night.

As NDC supporters engaged in jubilation, supporters on the opposite side started the post-election blame-game, with some proffering several reasons for the defeat.

Whilst some blamed the party's MPs for putting up a poor show, others believe the party was not smart enough to detect some technical anomalies that might have accounted for the ruling party's alleged ability to massage figures in its favour.

For example, some supporters accused some MPs (names withheld) of failing to police the polls during voting but remained complacent because they were sure of victory.

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