A large number of people in Kumasi and its surrounding towns yesterday took to the streets of the Garden City to demonstrate against the refusal of the Electoral Commission (EC) to either compile a new voters register or validate the existing register.
The demonstrators also expressed concern over the harsh economic conditions in the country.
They wondered why the EC had rejected the recommendations of its own Panel of Experts to purge the register of 600,000 dead people, minors and double registration.
Led by some leading members of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the demonstrators were joined by some members of the People’s National Convention (PNC), the National Democratic Party (NDP) and the Let My Vote Count Alliance who all walked from the Suame State Experimental School through Bantama, Adum, Asafo and ended at the Abbey’s Park at Ashanti New Town (Ash Town).
Clad in mourning clothes, the demonstrators, including young and very old ladies, carried placards, some of which read: “STL- Stealing to Lead”, “Who Controls STL?”, “Where is the Peace Council?”, “ Mahama Twaso”.
Others were: “Why is EC Refusing to Validate the Register?”, “No More Rigging”, “Bloated Register Baamu Yada”, “Why, Charlotte Osei Why?”, “2016 Must Be Free and Fair”.
Some of the NPP stalwarts who joined the demonstration were the Minority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, some Members of Parliament (MPs) in the Ashanti Region, the regional executive of the NPP and the National Youth Organiser of the NPP, Mr Sammy Awuku.
More than 100 head porters (kayayei) who participated in the protest carried their silver pans on their heads, some with their babies strapped to their backs, and walked from the State Experimental School at Suame to the Abbey’s Park.
Justice Agyakoma, the young man who lost one eye as a result of alleged police brutality during the Let My Vote Count demonstration in Accra last year, also mounted the platform and urged the people to join the crusade to ensure that the Mahama administration was booted out during the November polls.
The large number of policemen in their riot control gear, supported by their riot control vehicles, who were to provide protection for the demonstrators were rendered redundant because there was no incident warranting their intervention.
Although the demonstrators segmented themselves into about five different large groups, the police provided each group with an adequate number of personnel.
The Minority Leader made it clear that the NPP, as a law-abiding political party, was not resorting to the use of force to have its way but was urging the EC to listen to the voice of reason to do what was right and in the best interest of the Ghanaian electorate.
He recounted the various reasons which had been adduced for the call for a new register or validation, including the EC’s claim that there were 600,000 names of dead people on the register and the Supreme Court ruling annulling the use of NHIS cards for registering as a voter which had rendered more than four million names on the register invalid.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu wondered why there would not be a new register or validation to have a clean register for the 2016 elections when there were non-Ghanaians on the register and the EC itself had asserted that some people had engaged in double registration.
Mr Awuku cautioned the Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Charlotte Osei, not to work to favour President Mahama and the NDC, in spite of the fact that she was appointed by the government.
He advised her to bear in mind that all that Ghanaians were yearning for were free, fair and transparent elections.
A former MP for Asokwa, Mr Kofi Jumah, expressed shock at the silence of religious and traditional leaders at a time when the EC was messing up with the voters register and other processes.
He said left to Nana Akufo-Addo alone, “all the guns in the hands of the police would be converted into pans to cook food because he is the very epitome of peace in the country”.
“That does not mean that religious leaders and the National Peace Council should keep mute in this crucial era and only call for peace during elections,’’ he said.
Mr David Asante of the Let My Vote Count Alliance wondered why the EC and the NDC were afraid of a new voters register or a validated one.