NEW. Watch live television from Ghana plus the latest Ghanaian movies plus OBE TV.The decision by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) to amend part of its constitution to give greater representation to the foot soldiers seems to have rather brought confusion into the party ranks. Reports reaching The Chronicle from three regions - Ashanti, Eastern and Central speak of massive protests by the foot soldiers who claim that their desire to contest for the polling station executive positions are being thwarted by some of the leaders of the party at the constituency and regional levels.
These incessant protests have led to the suspension of the polling station elections in Mampong, in Ashanti, Suhum and Akropong in the Eastern region, and Cape Coast in the Central region.
At Mampong and Suhum, some of the party supporters are reported to have invaded the constituency offices and assaulted some of the staff on duty, and locked them up.
In Kumasi, groups of disgruntled supporters are up in arms against the Member of Parliament for Asokwa, Mr. Maxwell Kofi Jumah, who they have accused of usurping the party in the constituency.
According to sources, Mr. Jumah has made his house a polling station for the ongoing elections and is preventing his opponents from casting their ballot. Mr. Jumah admitted on Asempah FM, an Accra based radio station over the weekend that he was indeed using his house as a polling station, but claimed that those making the noise are the very people who took the party to court and were subsequently suspended by the constituency executives.
The allegation that some constituency executives of the party are hiding registration forms for the ongoing election of polling station executives of the party has split the Suhum branch of the party, amid accusations and counter accusations.
Sources within the constituency told this reporter that last year’s marathon elections to elect a parliamentary candidate for the party in the constituency, which ended in a deadlock until national officers of the party intervened, which is the source of the latest fracas.
Fifty-one polling station executives who supported one of the candidates during the sad elections are accusing the constituency executives of working around the clock to eliminate them from their positions to pave way for the current Member of Parliament for the area, Hon. Opare Ansah to easily win the next primary to represent the party in parliament again.
The Chronicle gathered that last week Friday, the group led by one Henry Adjei, a Polling Station Chairman for Supriso physically assaulted the Constituency executives, and pushed them out of the office and subsequently locked it up.
Addressing a news conference last Saturday, the Member of Parliament (MP) for the area, Hon. Frederick Opare-Ansah condemned the action. Explaining the process of the exercise, he said the National Executives Committee (NEC) of the party has provided a calendar for the election of officers of the party at all levels, under the supervision of the Constituency Executive Committee (CEC) and the Regional Officers. According to him, due to past experiences of elections within the constituency, the CEC decided to start the process of updating the constituency register just after the 2008 general elections.
He continued that, the group led by Henry Adjei, who proposed, supported and campaigned for an independent candidate during the 2008 general elections refused to work with the constituency officers for reasons best known to them, in a bid to update the constituency register. The MP said he could not fathom why the disgruntled polling station officers wanted to create tension in the area, since all the various steps laid out in the NEC directives have been complied with.
Hon. Opare-Ansah further denied claims that the CEC was hiding nomination forms, adding that the forms were received in the constituency office through the Regional Zonal Coordinator, Mr. Seth Okyere, only last Thursday.
He appealed to the group to use the grievance procedure of the party if they feel they have been cheated, since the party believes in due process of the law.
He also assured them of the CEC determination not to disfranchise any member during the elections as well as conduct the elections peacefully, using all legitimate means to achieve this objective.
The former Deputy Minister of Communication during the Kufuor administration also appealed to those pushing the group behind the scene to create confusion in the party to desist from such barbaric acts, since it would do more harm than good to the party.
Addressing a separate press conference earlier, the ‘opposition’ group who were clad in red shirts and caps stated that they have been sidelined in the running of the party in the constituency by the executives who are persistently working for Hon. Frederick Opare-Ansah, Member of Parliament for the area.
According to the spokesperson for the aggrieved polling station executives, Henry Adjei, the constituency executives led by the chairman have defied guidelines and general instructions governing the upcoming polling station executives’ elections, and communicated to them by the headquarters of the party.
He explained that directives were sent to all the constituencies across the country for compilation of incumbent polling station executives, but the chairman and his cohorts went round to select their favorites who were given registration forms.
The spokesperson disclosed that the 51 polling station executives have been sidelined because they did not support the candidature of the MP during the 2008 party's parliamentary election to pick a candidate to contest the constituency election on behalf of the party. The group expressed great regret over the attitude of the party executives since, according to them, the party needed unity and peace at this moment to win back power in the 2012 general elections.
"There have been series of reconciliation meetings among independent candidates, aggrieved supporters and the party as a whole, and in all parts of the country, but Suhum has not seen anything up to date", they stressed.
The group vowed never to allow the elections to take place until their grievances were addressed.