The Director of Advocacy and Policy Engagement, at the Center for Democratic Development (CDD), Dr. Kojo Asante, has raised concerns with the active role of the military in Ghana’s voter registration process.
According to him, security personnel physically confronting prospective registrants and challenging their eligibility is smacks of intimidation.
It could also discourage residents from cooperating with uniformed personnel tackling other security threats, he added.
“Nobody is supposed to physically prevent anybody from trying to register. The way that you challenge anybody is to fill a challenge form and that is why there are agents there for both political parties and they are using that process to challenge people,” he said.
Some residents in border communities especially in the Volta and Oti regions as well as the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) have in the past many weeks raised concerns about the heavy military deployment to border communities in the country.
While earlier narratives suggested that the personnel were deployed to stop the influx of non-Ghanaians into Ghana through unapproved routes amidst the COVID-19-induced international border closure, military personnel are seen at various voter registration centres too.
In some cases, they were directly involved in challenging the eligibility of prospective registrants.
But according to Dr. Asante, that must not be condoned.
He said the role of the security must be limited to addressing specific security issues such as stopping the bussing of people from other areas to specific registration centres to register.
“If there is are any issues with security together with the registration officials there, then it is dealt with but any activity where you go about questioning people is a complete no… if they are stopping people from bussing that is fine,” he said.
He further warned that if the military’s activities are not checked, residents may feel marginalized.
“It can intimidate and make people feel harassed. If people feel they are being harassed and marginalized and victimized there is no way they are going to be cooperative when you need them to give you information about terrorists crossing the borders. They have to be very careful in the way we are handling this process. I don’t think this sort of heavy deployment going from polling station to polling station will help. In the short term you may think you are doing something that is effective but in the long term that can hurt the main security objective that you have,” he added.
‘Military deployment in Banda threatens peace’
The General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketia has called on the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) to immediately withdraw armed officers from registration centres at Banda in the Bono region claiming that their presence threatens the peace of the area.
He also made the point that the military was targetting people of a particular tribe seeking to disenfranchise them.
Meanwhile, the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) has rejected claims of ethnic targeting in its military deployment to the Banda District in the Bono Region.