Police will play role in free elections - IGP assures ECOWAS elections team
The Inspector General of Police (IGP), Dr George Akuffo Dampare, and members of the Police Management Board (POMAB) have assured an ECOWAS Network of Electoral Commissions (ECONEC) post-election follow-up team that the police would play its role to ensure free and fair elections.
ECONEC is the umbrella body of West African Election Management Bodies (EMBs).
The team, which is on a four-day post-election mission to Ghana, is led by the chairmen of the electoral management bodies of Nigeria and Niger, and also includes the ECONEC Permanent Secretary and a technical team from the Permanent Secretariat.
Since its arrival in Ghana on July 10, 2023, the team has been assessing the level of implementation of the recommendations made by the ECOWAS and AU Electoral Observation Missions (EOMs) which observed the December 2020 general election in Ghana.
It had earlier held working sessions with various stakeholders of the electoral process, including the Electoral Commission (EC), the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC), civil society organisations (CSOs), the Ghana Journalists’ Association and international partners.
Yesterday, the team met the leadership of the Ghana Police Service, which is a major stakeholder in the country's electoral process.
After the meeting, the team toured the police headquarters as Dr Dampare briefed them on the operations of the Ghana Police Service and how the police were poised to serve the people.
The IGP informed the team about the measures put in place as far as election security was concerned to ensure a peaceful process in the upcoming 2024 presidential and parliamentary elections and other elections such as internal political party elections and elections in schools.
He said the Police Administration had established the Police Election Security Secretariat Unit to take care of election processes and election-related issues.
Until the establishment of the unit, he said the National Election Security Task Force only came together to do ad hoc preparation when national elections were approaching, but it was realised the approach was not helping.
Also, he said, the Police Administration continued to engage the EC, all the political parties and leadership of Students’ Representative Councils (SRCs) in the various universities to support in the holding of internal political party elections and student leadership elections.
Dr Dampare mentioned that the two main political parties in Ghana, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), had written to commend the police for the impressive security arrangements.
Social media review
The IGP told the team that the police had also put in place measures to enable it to review social media comments to curb the propagation of inflammatory comments.
Some of the mechanisms put in place included investigators and legal teams reviewing comments by, especially, opposing political parties.
Following such reviews, he said the police pursue any criminality to the fullest, while also intensifying its information dissemination with the public to control the speculation of fake news.
He indicated that the police would continue to engage all stakeholders, including the EC, political parties, civil society actors and the electorate.
After explaining to the team how the Police Administration had declared the Assin North Constituency and the Kumawu Constituency weapon-free zones during the recent by-elections, the team was full of praises for the Ghana Police Service, indicating that it had observed that the two by-elections were violence-free and therefore commended the police for their work.
It also said it had observed no election violence had been perpetrated against women as in other jurisdictions.
The leader of the ECONEC delegation, Issaka Souna told the Daily Graphic that the objective of the visit to the Ghana Police Service was to follow up on the implementation of a specific recommendation on the 2019 vigilantism and other related offences during the by-election in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency.
Also, it was to find out the election security preparedness of the Ghana Police Service for the 2024 presidential and parliamentary elections.
They said the Police Administration had provided satisfactory information on the work that had been done with regard to its implementation of the specific recommendation on the 2019 vigilantism in the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency.
It said the mission had met with the Minister for the Interior and impressed upon the Ministry to continue supporting the Ghana Police Service with the necessary resources for even better service delivery.