By Edmund Mingle
Wednesday, 05 March 2008
DR Kwadwo Afari-Djan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), yesterday cleared the air over allegations of bloated figures in the Voters Register for the Ashanti Region, refuting claims by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) that the register has been bloated by about 113 per cent.
He told the media after a closed-door Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting, that the EC’s own figures which he described as authentic, were far different from those in the possession of the NDC.
The meeting was to discuss the EC’s programme of activities for the December general elections.The EC made available its figures for Ashanti to representatives of the various political parties and the meeting agreed that it should investigate the circumstances leading to the official issuance of a CD ROM to the NDC containing figures that were different from the EC’s figures.
The background to the controversy is that the EC, upon an official request from the NDC, recently provided the NDC with a CD ROM of voters register.
Upon receipt and scrutiny of the data on the CD ROM, which is tamper-proof, the NDC raised the alarm, alleging that it had discovered that the figures for Ashanti had been bloated by 113 per cent between 2004 and 2006.
The figures, which were made available to the press by the EC, show that the number of registered voters increased from 1,892,639 in 2004 to 2,005,875 in 2006, representing an increase of six per cent.
Dr. Afari-Djan said that although the EC provided the NDC with the CD ROM containing the data, the EC was surprised at the astronomical increases the NDC claims to have discovered.
"The fact of the matter is that those figures are not correct and we have provided them with the authentic figures," he said, adding that the matter would be thoroughly investigated.
He neither ruled out mischief on the part of "someone" to provide incorrect figures to the NDC, nor system and human error in the matter, hoping that the investigations would reveal the circumstances.
Among other things, he said the NDC would be requested to submit the CD ROM for scrutiny to examine its authenticity by the investigation team that is yet to be instituted.
On whether there would be representatives of the parties on the investigation team, he said, "We agreed that it is our collective responsibility to find out who gave out the CD ROM with that content to the NDC."
He disagreed that the matter would affect the credibility of the EC, saying the EC’s image would have been dented if it had not been able to provide the authentic figures.
"This should not dent the image of the EC in the minds of right thinking people," Dr. Afari-Djan said.
Asiedu Nketia, General Secretary of the NDC, told the media that the party demands thorough investigations into the matter, and wondered what could have gone wrong for the EC to provide figures to the NDC that are at variance with what it provided yesterday.
He said the NDC proposed that it would be part of the investigation team to prevent a "cover-up", adding that "we are very vigilant."
Peter Mac Manu, Chairman of the New Patriotic Party, said he suspected mischief in the whole matter and asked the EC to take action to redeem its image.
He said "someone may have manipulated the figures on the CD ROM so as to create confusion."
Other issues discussed at the meeting included the registration of qualified voters who have turned 18 years, replacement of lost voter ID cards, exhibition and revision of voters’ register and opening of nominations for presidential and parliamentary candidates, as well as dates for voting.