La Bawaleshi polling station was a ‘haven’ for voters – EC Boss
Electoral Commission Chairperson, Jean Mensa has maintained that the Ayawaso West Wuogon by-election was ultimately peaceful in her testimony before the Emile Short Commission of Inquiry on Friday.
A shooting incident near the La Bawaleshi polling station sparked confusion that leftover 10 persons with varying degrees of injuries.
Voting in the area was brought to a halt for about 45 minutes.
The EC Chair stressed that the violence that overshadowed the by-election took place about 140 metres away from a polling station at La Bawaleshi.
Mrs. Mensa said the polling station that has been the centre of the controversy was actually a safe zone for persons fleeing the violence.
“The gunshots could be heard around the neighbourhood including the area of the school. What is interesting was that people run into the school to take cover. So I am sure it was some sort of a peaceful haven for them.”
The EC chair also said there were no armed men at any polling station, contrary to observation by reporters and observer like the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers’ (CODEO).
“I had the opportunity to visit about 15 polling stations and there were no armed men. Nobody has reported the presence of intimidating armed men.”
She also disputed reports there was excessive security at some polling stations and clarified that the National Security persons at polling stations “were not armed.”
CODEO urged a review of the security protocols during the polls, which it described as uncoordinated, excessive and intimidating.
“I didn’t sight and I haven’t received reports of policemen numbering as high as 15. You would find four of five police officers, four or five immigration officers and one or two officers from the national security. But in all the polling stations that I visited, I didn’t see 15 police officers and we have received reports to that effect.”
CODEO reported that at the Dzorwulu JHS, for instance, two adjoining polling stations had a total of 13 uniformed security personnel as well as a number of non-uniformed security personnel.
At the Christian Book Centre at East Legon, CODEO said it saw nine uniformed security personnel and other non-uniformed security personnel at the two adjoining polling stations.