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66,000 Contesting district level elections

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Over 17 million eligible voters will go to the polls today to decide the fate of 66,257 persons who are contesting to become assembly and unit committee members.

The Electoral Commission (EC) records show that 18,755 candidates are contesting the assembly membership while 47,502 are vying for slots in the unit committees of the 6,215 electoral areas across 259 metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs).

Given that one assembly member and five unit committee members represent each electoral area, 6,215 candidates will be elected as assembly members while 31,075 will pick slots as unit committee members.  

The poll is being conducted in line with section 5(1)(b) of the Local Government Act, 1993 (Act 462) and those elected would serve a four-year term in the MMDAs.

The polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 5 p.m. in 38,315 polling stations across all MMDAs, except in Nkoranza North and Nkoranza South districts in the Bono East Region because those districts had their elections in 2021 instead of 2019.

Furthermore, elections in the Wenchiki, Adibo, Tigenga, and Bunburiga electoral areas in the Chereponi District in the North East Region have been suspended for security reasons. 

“This decision was taken by the Chereponi District Security Council (DISEC) and members of the Chereponi District Assembly,” the Chairperson of the EC, Jean Mensa, told the press in Accra yesterday. 

Regional breakdown

A breakdown of the numbers shows that the Ashanti Region has the highest number of contestants in the DLEs, with 3,794 persons vying for assembly membership in 1,087 electoral areas.

This is followed by the Eastern Region with 2,685 aspirants in 852 electoral areas; the Central Region with 1,634 contestants in 572 electoral areas, and the Volta Region with 1,398 aspirants in 447 electoral areas.

The Greater Accra Region completes the list of top five regions with the highest number of assembly member aspirants, with 1,346 people eyeing seats in 422 electoral areas.

Two other regions that have more than 1,000 aspirants for the assembly member slots each are the Western and Northern regions, which have 1,197 and 1,074 aspirants in 363 and 421 electoral areas respectively.

In the Upper East Region, 939 persons are contesting the assembly member positions in 359 electoral areas, while 877 are also battling it out in 322 electoral areas in the Bono Region.

There are 730 assembly member aspirants in 293 electoral areas in the Upper West Region; 664 in 226 electoral areas in the Bono East; 628 in 213 electoral areas in the Oti Region, and 575 in 185 electoral areas in the Wester-North Region.

The Ahafo, Savannah and North East regions have the least number of assembly member aspirants, with 450 in 169 electoral areas, 397 in 152 electoral areas and 373 in 132 electoral areas respectively.

All set

Mrs Mensa assured Ghanaians that the EC had put measures in place to ensure that the elections were conducted successfully.

She said the EC had recruited and trained all categories of election officials at the national, regional and district levels to oversee the polls.

Mrs Mensa said 116,701 election officials had been trained for the DLEs, including returning officers and deputy returning officers, returning officers (special duties), presiding officers, technicians, verification officers and ballot issuers.

She added that 71,775 biometric verification devices (BVDs) had been deployed for voter verification and identification.

“Almost all election materials and equipment required for the DLE have been procured and in sufficient quantities and dispatched to the various regions and districts,” the EC chair said.  

In terms of security, she said, the commission had submitted the list of all polling stations across the country, including flashpoints to the security agencies to help in the deployment of security officers to ensure the safety of voters. 

GJA calls

Meanwhile, the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) has urged all eligible Ghanaians to come out to vote in today’s poll as a matter of priority.

In a press release signed by its General Secretary, Kofi Yeboah, the association said it expected a high turnout rate in the elections to underline the maturity of Ghanaians in democracy, especially at the local governance level.

“The GJA appreciates the commitment Ghanaians may have on a working day, and barely a week to Christmas, but we wish to let them also appreciate the greater need to secure a better future for themselves by electing competent officers to lead the process of development at the local level,” the GJA added.

The association further called on the EC, security agencies and other electoral actors to exhibit “high professionalism in the discharge of their duties.”

“We particularly call on all stakeholders to support the EC in the management of the elections in order to ensure the success of the polls,” the association said.

The GJA also urged the media to give extensive coverage to the local government election, “and to deliver this charge on the highest professional standards.”

Background

The DLEs are meant to elect assembly members and unit committee members at designated electoral areas at MMDAs.

The elections are in accordance with the Local Government Act, 1993 (Act 462), which provides for the election of assembly members to MMDAs.

Section 5(3) of Act 462 states: “Elections to a district assembly shall be held once every four years, at least six months before or after a general election of Members of Parliament.”

Section 6(1) of Act 462 also provides that for a person to qualify to be elected as a member of a district assembly, the person must be a citizen of Ghana above 18 years, a registered voter, ordinarily resident in the district they are seeking election, and also be a taxpayer.

The assembly members are to serve as the representatives of the communities, while the unit committee members also help in mobilisation at the community level.

Over the years, the DLEs have been characterised by low patronage, with a national average turnout of 30 per cent.

SOURCE: GRAPHIC ONLINE