Six presidential aspirants of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) have commended the National Election Committee (NEC) of the party for taking the pain to produce the guidelines for the conduct of the party’s presidential election.

They, however, maintained that the guidelines contained some lapses that needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

They further called for due diligence to be done to address the lapses in the operation guidelines that had been developed to be used to conduct the party’s upcoming presidential primaries.

A letter dated February 10, 2019 and signed by Dr Yaw Ato, on behalf of the Aspirants Technical Committee, called for all lapses in the guidelines to be addressed to ensure that the electoral process was free and fair.

Six aspirants

The six aspirants are Mr Alban Bagbin, Professor Joshua Alabi, Mr Sylvester Mensah, Mr Augustus Tanoh, Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah and Mr Nurudeen Iddrisu.

Former President John Dramani Mahama is the seventh candidate but is not part of the six petitioners.

One of the issues pointed out by the six aspirants was that the guidelines had not provided adequate description of electoral processes to be carried out and monitored by agents.

They also added that the guidelines did not state the rights and obligations of various stakeholders, including agents, Electoral Commission (EC), Elections Committee and other party officials clearly.

Also, they argued that the document did not provide standards to which the Elections Committee was committed and the complaints and redress mechanisms available to aspirants.

Among the other grievances raised by the aspirants are that “no notice of polls has been issued two weeks to the election, and aspirants were not invited to oversee printing or distribution of notices, meaning that the EC is in breach of its guidelines”.

They also raised concerns that there were issues about the electoral college, voting modalities and ballot box printing that ought to be addressed immediately to forestall the integrity of the electoral process.

Engagement

The letter which was addressed to the Chairman of the party’s NEC, Mr Kofi Attoh, indicated that the candidates were prepared to discuss the outstanding issues with the Election Committee.

“While we appreciate the effort made by the Election Committee to produce the document, we do think that the operational guidelines could be improved significantly if they are to support a free and fair electoral process.  

“We have attached comments for your consideration. We are available to discuss these at the meeting proposed for Tuesday, February 12, 2019. We are also available to contribute to the drafting of amendments if this is acceptable,” the letter stated.

Background

Representatives of the six presidential aspirants served a warning to the top brass of the party of an imminent “chaotic” and “controversial” election that might lead to disruptions in the electoral calendar of the party.

According to the representatives of the six, who are part of a joint technical committee, despite a series of engagements and repeated assurances of good faith from the leadership of the party, much was not being achieved with regard to making sufficient progress towards a free and fair poll.

A letter signed by three representatives of the six aspirants, Dr Yaw Akoto, Abdul-Nasser Alidu and Victor Kwadjoga Adawusu, dated February 5, 2019 and copied to the Chairman of the Elections Committee of the NDC, Mr Kofi Attoh, said “issues are not being adequately discussed and conclusions documented. Electoral processes are not following logical progression”.

The letter was equally copied to the General Secretary of the party, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia; the Chairman, Mr Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo, as well as the Chairman of the Council of Elders of the party, former President Jerry John Rawlings.

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