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Joint CDD-Ghana/CODEO Special Report on Conflict Monitoring and Intervention for Peace in Election in Ghana's Elections 2012
As part of efforts to prevent violence and manage conflicts in the upcoming 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections, the Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) have embarked on a joint exercise to facilitate peace education in 40 constituencies which are considered to be flash points in the country and monitor risks of violence in upcoming elections. Supported by the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the Conflict-Monitoring Project is aimed at minimizing the incidence of violence before, during and after elections in Ghana. This first report, which covers the period of 15-30 October 2012, highlights analysis of the conflict monitoring exercise conducted by the field monitors within the stated period. A total of 320 communities in the 40 constituencies were visited during the period.
Criteria for Selecting the Constituencies
The 40 constituencies were selected and clustered into the three main vulnerability zones based on the following indicators: historical trends of conflict and electoral violence, prevailing security realities, and the nature of electoral competitiveness, among others. The constituencies are:
- Northern (3):Nanumba North; Yapei/Kusawgu; Chereponi
- Upper West (3): Jirapa; Sissala East; Wa East
- Upper East (3): Bolgatanga; Bongo; Chiana-Paga
- Volta (1): Hohoe
- Brong-Ahafo (6): Wenchi; Asunafo North; Asunafo South; Tain; Sene; Berekum
- Greater Accra (4): Ablekuma South; Ashaiman; Ledzokuku Krowo; Amasaman-Trobu
- Western (4): Sefwi Akontombra; Tarkwa Nsuaem; Wassa Amanfi East; Prestea Huni Valley
- Central (3): Cape Coast; Effutu, Mfantseman West
- Eastern (4): Birim Central; Asuogyaman; Atiwa; Manya Krobo
- Ashanti (6):Ahafo-Ano South; Amansie West; Asante-Akim South; Bekwai; Offinso North; Sekyere Afram Plains
- Volta (3): Ketu South; Hohoe; Nkwanta North; North Tongu
A total of 84 election-risk incidents were recorded in 39* constituencies across the ten regions within the period under review. These incidents were recorded on the following election-risk indicators:
- defacement of posters;
- physical harm;
- verbal harassment;
- disruption of rallies;
- rumors and allegations;
- threat of violence or harm;
- vandalizations; group clash;
- intemperate language;
- media bias;
- ultimatums or threats over chieftaincy dispute,
- constituency demarcation,
- omission of names in biometric register, and
- boycotts of the upcoming general elections among others.
Within the period, 9 constituencies recorded no activity which may trigger violent or conflict outcomes: Nanumba North (NR); Asante-Akim South (AS); Bekwai (AS); Birim Central (ER); Tain (BAR); Sene (BAR); Berekum (BAR); Ledzokuku-Krowor (GAR); and Wassa Amanfi East (WR). By regional distribution, the Greater Accra and Western Regions recorded the most incidents while Upper West recorded the least.
The risk indicators recorded are grouped into 3 main categories, namely: major, moderate, and minor risk incidences. The categorization is based on the degree of the immediate impact of an incident on human safety and public order. Thus the impact of physical harm or inter-group clashes on human safety and public order is relatively higher than poster defacement. It should however be stated that in both instances the potential to trigger violence in an election could be high depending on which constituency zones is in question. The period recorded more moderate incidents (50 percent). A little over 37 percent of the incidents were minor, while the remaining 12.5 percent were recorded as major incidents. Even though, the major risk incidents constituted the lowest, there is still a cause for concern since some of the incidents occurred at the inter-personal level. It is worthy to note that, inter-personal clashes that result into physical harm or vandalizations could easily generate into communal clashes, especially within the 'security' risk constituencies.
Defacement of political party posters dominated the minor incidence category. This occurred in all the ten regions. Of the 39 constituencies, 26 constituencies representing 66 percent of the constituencies recorded various forms of poster defacement, including tearing (40%), scraping (25%), plastering (21%), and painting (14%). Defaced posters belonging to parliamentary candidates were relatively more (61%) than those belonging to presidential candidates (39%). This takes account of independent candidates who were not successful at their party parliamentary primaries. Stronghold and swing constituencies together recorded more than three quarters (77%) of defaced posters. They both shared almost the same percentages (38% and 39% respectively). The remaining 23 percent of defaced posters occurred in 'security' risk constituencies. Out of a total of 1689 posters defaced, the Ashaiman constituency recorded the highest (857). In general, most of these posters were for the NDC (38%) and NPP (34%). Posters of other parties such as the CPP, PPP, PNC, NDP, independent candidates, as well as EC's posters were not spared this poster-defacing debacle but these suffered relatively low volumes of the incident.
Public order abuse and verbal harassments were the main incidents recorded in the 'moderate incidence' category. These were recorded in 8 constituencies, namely: Chereponi (NR), Yapei/Kusawgu (NR), Lower Manya Krobo (ER), Ashaiman (GAR), Effutu (WR), Sefwi Akontombra (WR), Tarkwa-Nsuaem (WR), and Prestea Huni Valley (WR). Public order abuse in this instance was mainly the risks/safety posed by reckless motor riding at major political party rallies.
Major incidents such as physical harm occurred in 7 constituencies, namely: Sissala East (UWR); Chereponi (NR); Asunafo North (BAR); Nkwanta North (VR); Manya Krobo (ER); Effutu (WR) and Prestea-Huni Valley (WR). These incidents recorded 10 victims in total. The most serious physical harm occurred in the Asunafo North (BAR) and Chereponi (NR) districts. In Goaso (BAR), an NPP activist was attacked with a cutlass by an NDC adherent on the 22nd October 2012 around 6:15pm. The victim, who sustained cutlass wounds to his head, had just taken part in a political talk show program on the Nananom FM. A formal complaint has been lodged at the police station. In the Chereponi instance, an individual from the Nansoni community sustained injuries to his head when he was beaten by NPP supporters in the community for cutting down their party flags, which were tied across the road. This happened on 15th October 2012 (11:45am). In another incident, political party sympathizers assaulted a madman in the Manya Krobo (ER) district for repeatedly defacing their party posters.
In terms of ranking, defacement of posters was the risk with the most frequent occurrence. It is ranked first, occurring in a total of 26 (more than half) constituencies across all 10 regions. This is followed by intemperate language (2nd); rumors and allegations (3rd); verbal harassments (4th); and physical harm (5th), which occurred in as many as 11, 9, 7 and 7 constituencies respectively. These represent the top 5 election-risks indicators in Ghana for the period from 15 - 30 October, 2012.
Based on this first report, the following recommendations are proposed by CDD-Ghana/CODEO:
- Public and political parties at the constituency level must be educated on the legal implications of tampering with public education and campaign materials such as posters, flags, billboards etc.
- We implore the radio stations, especially political talk show hosts to be firm in the moderation of their programmes and insist that panellists follow set down rules and regulations.
- Sympathisers and supporters of political parties who have the opportunity of making public speeches should refrain from making statements that will inflame passions
- We implore the security agencies to intensify their security operations in the flashpoints and enforce the public order act and other measures that have been designed by the police to ensure violent free electoral process.
- We urge the general public to conform to existing rules and regulations governing the conduct of the elections.
For further information, please contact Mr Aborampah Mensah on the following numbers: 0244185085/0209013585