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Battle lines drawn for 2020 Elections

BY: Kester Aburam Korankye

The leading political parties in Ghana have given different interpretations into their positions on the ballot paper for the 2020 Presidential Elections scheduled for December 7.

The presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and that of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), former President John Dramani Mahama, on Tuesday picked up the first and the second spots, respectively, on the ballot paper.

While the NDC have described their spot on the ballot as “the second coming” of Mr Mahama, the NPP says the number one spot was perfect for the party.

Permutations

A few minutes after the balloting was conducted, supporters of the various political parties took to social media with interpretations on the positions of their flag bearers on the ballot paper.

Almost every party claimed its position had a special connotation to its performance at the polls.

One of the NPP’s 2012 campaign songs: ‘Nana Addo Wo soro ho’, composed by highlife singer, Kwabena Kwabena, instantly started making waves on social media.

While some NPP supporters also claimed that the number one position meant that their flag bearer would win the election, supporters of the NDC were out with art works having the two fingers (two sure) sign, describing the number two position of their flag bearer on the ballot paper to signify the second coming of former President Mahama.

Spots on ballot paper

Nine other candidates of political parties who have qualified to contest the presidential election also booked their spots on the ballot paper after participating in the balloting. 

At the end of the process, which lasted about two hours, the flag bearer of the Ghana Union Movement (GUM), Mr Christian Kwabena Andrews, picked up the third spot, while Mr Ivor Kobina Greenstreet of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Madam Akua Donkor of the Ghana Freedom Party (GFP), Mr Henry Herbert Lartey of the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) and Mr Hassan Ayariga of the All People’s Congress (APC) picked the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh spots, respectively.

The flag bearer of the Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG), Mr Kofi Apaloo; Mr David Apasera of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Ms Brigitte Dzogbenuku of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) and Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings of the National Democratic Party (NDP) secured the eighth, ninth, 10th and 11th spots, respectively, on the ballot paper.

An independent candidate, Mr Asiedu Walker, was not allowed to participate in the process, although he was present with his running mate, Mr Jacob Osei Yeboah.

The EC handed him the 12th spot on the ballot paper.

NDC objection

However, just before the balloting could begin, the Deputy General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Peter Boamah Otorkunor, said the party had some reservations on how the balloting was conducted.

He accused the Electoral Commission (EC) of conducting the process in secrecy and asked that the commission allow all the stakeholders to supervise how the materials used in the balloting were processed.

"Let’s see the ballot papers you are using to do the balloting, so that it will be transparent to eliminate rigging of positions on the ballot paper," he said.

But the Deputy EC Chairman in charge of Corporate Services, Dr Eric Bossman Asare, disagreed with Mr Otorkunor's position, explaining that the balloting was part of the administrative procedures of the EC.

In spite of the objections from the NDC’s Deputy General Secretary, the process continued successfully without any hitches.  

NPP, NDC others react

After the process, Mr Otorkunor said it was “evidently clear that the EC is in some collusion with the government to rig the elections”.

“This balloting was not done in a transparent manner. You saw how the ballot was taken out and brought in secrecy,” he added.

However, he said, the NDC was satisfied with the number two position and was confident of winning the election.

The General Secretary of the NPP, Mr John Boadu, who represented the party’s flag bearer at the balloting, said the number one spot was perfect for the party.  

Important process

The balloting process is one of the last procedures initiated by the EC as part of the consensus building and transparency processes towards the conduct of polls.

According to a Deputy Chairman of the EC in charge of Operations, Mr Samuel Tettey, who supervised the balloting, the process was adopted by the EC as a mechanism to bring openness and fairness to the electoral process, although it was not stipulated in the electoral laws of the country.

“The placement of candidates on the ballot was done on a first-come, first-served basis and the struggle for positions on the ballot paper by candidates led the commission to adopt the balloting system,” he explained. 

The balloting was conducted in two stages, with the first round determining the order in which the parties could pick the secret ballots.

Independent candidate reacts

Speaking with the Daily Graphic in an interview after the balloting, Mr Walker said it was unfair for the commission to ignore an independent candidate in any aspect of the electoral process. 

He said although his team was not perturbed by the default position rendered him, restricting balloting to candidates sponsored by political parties alone should not be repeated in the future.

“We all paid the same GH¢100,000 and must go through the same process. But our position is rather great because if you put the NPP’s number 1 spot and the number 2 of the NDC together, you will get 12 and that is the winning position,” he said.