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Electorate say yes to creation of six new regions

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong and Kweku Zurek
Mrs  Jean Mensa, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) pointing at the results of the referendum at the EC Conference Room in Accra
Mrs Jean Mensa, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) pointing at the results of the referendum at the EC Conference Room in Accra

Ghanaians in the six proposed regions of Oti, Savannah, North East, Western North, Ahafo and Bono East regions last week voted massively in a referendum to endorse their creation.

Declaring the results on December 28, 2018, the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Jean Adukwei Mensa, said all the six proposed regions met the threshold of 50 per cent voter turnout and 80 per cent voting YES.

A summary of the results declared by the EC showed that the NO vote was unable to garner even one per cent of the valid votes cast in the respective regions, with Oti recording the highest NO vote of 0.89 per cent, while Ahafo, with 99.68 per cent, edged North East, which had 99.67 per cent, as the area with the highest percentage of YES votes.

Western North

In the Western North, for instance, out of the 502,185 registered voters, 390,128 turned out to vote, representing 77.69 per cent.

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Out of that, 388,235, representing 99.51 per cent, voted YES, while 942, representing 0.24 per cent, voted NO.

A total of 951 votes, representing 0.24 per cent, were rejected.

The lowest turnout of registered voters (77.69 per cent) was recorded in Western North.

Ahafo

Comparatively, the highest turnout of registered voters was recorded in Ahafo, where 90.41 per cent registered voters participated in the poll, which translated into 277,663 out of 307,108 voters.

A total of 276,763 people, representing 99.68 per cent, voted YES, as against 675, representing 0.24 per cent, which voted NO.

Some 225 ballots, representing 0.08 per cent, were rejected.

Oti

In the Oti area, out of the 366,481 registered voters, 323,708, representing 88.33 per cent, turned out to vote, with 319,296, representing 98.64 per cent, voting YES, as against 2,878, representing 0.89 per cent, which voted NO.

Some 1,534 ballots, representing 0.47 per cent votes, were rejected.

Comparatively, the Oti area recorded the highest number of NO votes of 0.89 per cent (1,534).

Bono East

In Bono East, out of the 525,275 registered voters, 450,812, representing 85.82 per cent, turned out to vote, with 448,545, representing 99.50 per cent, voting YES and 1,384, representing 0.31 per cent, voting NO.

Eight hundred and eighty-three ballots, representing 0.20 per cent, were rejected.

Savannah

In the Savannah, out of a registered voter population of 253,566, some 207,343 voters, representing 81.77 per cent, turned out to vote.

Out of that, 206,350, representing 99.52 per cent, voted YES, as against 647, representing 0.31 per cent, who voted NO.

Some 340 ballots, representing 0.17 per cent, were rejected.

North East

The North East area, with a voter population of 254,243, had 205,804 voters, representing 80.95 per cent, turning out to vote, out of which 205,121, representing 99.67 per cent, voted YES, as against 447, representing 0.22 per cent, who voted NO.

Two hundred and thirty-six ballots, representing 0.11 per cent, were rejected.

Alleged malpractices

Responding to allegations of some malpractices in some areas, the EC Chairperson said the allegations, some of which had been captured on video and were circulated on social media, had come to the attention of the commission and that investigations were underway.

At least two separate videos alleging malpractices at two separate areas had been shared on social media and persons suspected to be election officers were also seen engaging in some malpractices.

In one of the videos, an individual was seen thumbprinting many ballot papers at a place said to be a polling station.

In the second video, someone was seen in an EC-branded polling booth thumbprinting a number of what was assumed to be ballot papers.

Investigations

Mrs Mensa said the EC would not shield any member of staff, permanent or temporary, found to have violated the law.

"We are waiting to hear from our officials and the security agencies on the line of action to take.

We are not familiar with these officers, investigations are going on and we are also calling on members of the public to present any evidence that they may have to the commission and the police.

Once that is done, we will know the next line of action to take," she said.

Meanwhile, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has commended the new leadership of the EC for passing its first test by ensuring the holding of free, fair and transparent referenda.

He also applauded the security agencies and the media for the roles they played towards the success of the referenda, which he described as invaluable.

The President also thanked the members of the Brobbey Commission, led by Mr Justice S.A. Brobbey, a retired justice of the Supreme Court, for the thorough and painstaking work the commission did which resulted in the recommendations that received overwhelming, popular endorsement.

Ghanaians, President Akufo-Addo said, by the singular process, had again demonstrated to the world their deep attachment to the principles of democratic accountability and the rule of law.

Background to referendum

President Akufo-Addo received a number of petitions from citizens, traditional rulers and communities in the six areas requesting the creation of new regions.

Thereafter, the President set up a nine-member Commission of Enquiry under the chairmanship of Justice S.A. Brobbey, with specific terms of reference to look into the demands and make recommendations.

President Akufo-Addo, as required by law, presented the government’s White Paper on the recommendations of the Commission of Enquiry to the EC for the referenda in the six areas.