The electorate in the Talensi Constituency of the Upper East Region went to the polls in a severe, hostile and intimidating environment due to the sporadic violent tendencies exhibited at a number of hotspots in the area in yesterday’s by-election.
The areas include Tongo Central, Winkogo, Baare, Shiega and Duusi.
On more than two occasions, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) whose office is a gateway to the Tongo township, the constituency capital, was blocked by its security operatives known as ‘The Invisible Forces’.
One had to automatically pass through that area to get into town and to the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) constituency office area, thus preventing the governing party’s officials from getting into town.
But for the timely intervention of the police and the military, who had to fire warning shots to disperse the crowd, an explosive situation would have occurred here.
As a result of the blockade of the road, some voters had to return home without exercising their democratic rights to elect a new lawmaker for the area.
Most polling stations across the constituency were besieged by party supporters who came from all over the country who appeared to have outnumbered the voters in the constituency.
There was a serious reported confrontation between NDC Azoka boys and some NPP supporters known as Bolga Bull Dogs during the election.
Information gathered by The Ghanaian Times, indicated that there were gunshots at the constituency office of the NPP resulting in vandalisation of vehicles but with no casualty.
Police and Military personnel later intervened to calm the two irate sides who were bent on fighting each other tooth for tooth.
Earlier, a group of macho men purported to be aligned to the main opposition party New Patriotic Party (NPP) stormed the Talensi Constituency over reports that an National Democratic Congress (NDC) youth group prevented NPP members from visiting some polling stations in yesterday’s by-election.
Reports indicated that the group mounted road blocks in Tongo and thoroughly searched any vehicle that plied the roads.
An eyewitness said that the activities of the tugs generated a lot of tension in the area, thereby creating a huge traffic and impeding easy movement.
The aggrieved NPP supporters said their action was in response to a similar action taken by a NDC youth group, which was said to have also taken over the hinterlands in the constituency, and were preventing NPP members from visiting those areas.
Earlier in the morning, a combined team of police and military personnel seized a registered Ak47 rifle and a pistol which were in a ford van heading for Tongo, the Talensi district capital
A 40-year-old woman told The Ghanaian Times that, if the hooliganism exhibited during the by-election was anything to go by, then the security agencies would have a herculean task to ensure a peaceful and transparent election in 2016.
She said the government would have to re-strategise properly to curtail the excesses seen at the Talensi or else voters would prefer to save their lives by not coming out to vote.
The parliamentary seat of the constituency became vacant following the resignation of their former Member of Parliament, Robert Nachinab Doameng Mosore, who had been installed the Tongo-Rana, Paramount Chief of the Tongo Traditional Area last month.
Voting started at 7 am on Tuesday in the Talensi Constituency by-election with eight candidates representing various political parties contesting.
So far, voting at all the polling stations visited was progressing peacefully and the queues were in order.
By 7.40 am, 36 people had voted at the Gbeogo polling station while 50 others were in queue. The Tongo Central polling station had 30 people in queue after 24 had voted as at 7.50 am.
At the Roman Catholic polling station, 28 people out of the 367 registered voters had cast their ballot by 7.55 am.
There was no queue as voters trickled in one at a time to vote. At the Zubeogo polling station which has 715 registered voters, 45 people cast their votes, while 40 others were in queue.
By 8.22 am, 47 cast their votes out of the 435 registered voters at the Zubeogo Old Court polling station, with 25 others in the queue.
Ms Akua Swanzi, a polling assistant at the Roman Catholic polling station, said they had all the materials on time and the identities of all voters were being verified before they were allowed to vote.
The various political parties were well represented at all the centres and security personnel were also present. There was a rather heavy security presence before voting started and all vehicles entering the constituency were thoroughly searched.
From A A Mbords, Tongo