Today’s by-election in Assin North Constituency in the Central is being seen by some political watchers as a rehearsal of how the 2024 general election is likely to play out.
Coming events they say cast their shadows.
The two main political parties adopted “door-to-door” approach to convince people to vote for their candidates.
All the leading political figures in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party (NPP) including President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo; Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawiumia, and former President John Dramani Mahama touched base in the constituency.
The constituency has been busy with projects and bustling political activities in the last few weeks, with all contesting parties busily campaigning for votes.
The contest which is a straight fight between the NDC’s James Gyakye Quayson and NPP’s Charles Opoku is close to call.
These two candidates have been hailed by the constituents for their philanthropic works.
Some political analysts and polls predict a win for Opoku with a slim margin but victory will ultimately depend on the party whose supporters troop to vote in their numbers today.
NPP touts 112 projects
The NPP is touting 112 physical infrastructure projects the party said it has executed in Assin North of which 81 is completed and 31 on-going.
The projects cover sectors such as education, health, water, security, road, market, sanitation, rural telephony, social and recreational facilities, electricity extension among others.
NDC relying in economic hardships
The NDC on the other wants voters to punish the NPP government for the economic hardships in the country.
While touting some development projects carried out the NDC in the constituency, the party is of the view that court cases against Quayson negatively affected his ability to deliver.
The Assin North Constituency was carved out of the then Assin Central Constituency in 2012.
About 260 settlements make up the constituency, including Assin Bereku, the district capital, Assin Akonfudi, Assin Praso and Assin Kushea, among others.
The NDC won the Assin North constituency seat in 2012, but lost to the NPP in 2016. The NDC reclaimed the seat in 2020.
41,168 registered voters
In all, about 41,168 registered voters are expected to cast their ballots in 99 election centers.
198 Biometric Verification Devices
More than 198 Biometric Verification Devices (BVD) are expected to be deployed with two at each polling centrre.
Akufo-Addo won with 16,067 (50.81%) votes
President Akufo-Addo won with 16,067 votes representing 50.81% while ex-President John Mahama obtained 15,014 votes which represent 47.48%.
Gyakye Quayson won with 17,498 (55.2%) votes
In the parliamentary elections, James Gyakye Quayson of NDC polled 17,498 votes representing 55.2% while NPP’s Abena Durowaa Mensah secured 14,193 votes which represent 44.8%.
Quayson polled more votes than President Akufo-Addo in 2020
The figures shows that Quayson polled more votes than even President Akufo-Addo which signals the NDC candidates popularity in the constituency.
Supreme Court ruling on Quayson
The by-election follows the orders of the Supreme Court to Parliament to expunge James Gyaakye Quayson’s name from the records of Parliament, creating an opportunity for a new representative to step into the role.
The unanimous decision of the seven-member panel delivered in April 2023, was authored by Justice Nene Amegatcher, with Justice Jones Dotse presiding and Justices Mariama Owusu, Gertrude Araba Esaaba Sackey Torkornoo, Prof. Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, Emmanuel Yonny Kulendi and Barbara Ackah-Yensu, as members.
Again, the Supreme Court ruled by 5-2 majority decision on 13 April 2022 that James Gyakye Quayson could not continue to sit in the house as MP for Assin North.
It was the considered view of the court that Article 94(2) (a) of the 1992 Constitution, which bars a person who owes allegiance to another country from becoming an MP takes effect at the time the Electoral Commission (EC) opens nomination and not during the election or the swearing-in of MPs in Parliament.
In view of that, the court held that Mr Quayson was constitutionally barred from contesting the Assin North seat because in October 2020 when the EC opened nominations for persons to file to contest , he failed to renounce his Canadian citizenship before filing to contest.
“We state without any equivocation that Article 94(2) (a) means that to be qualified to be a Member of Parliament, a citizen of Ghana must not hold any other citizenship at the time when nominations are opened by the Electoral Commission for registration of candidates for election as Members of Parliament,” the court held.
“Since the first defendant [Gyakye Quayson] had not received his certificate of renunciation as a Canadian citizen as of October 9, 2020, then he was not qualified to be a Member of Parliament at the time he filed his nomination papers, at the time he stood for elections, and at the time he was declared as elected Member of Parliament, because he owed allegiance to another country as at October 9, 2020, the date when he should have satisfied the qualification criteria,” the court held
He had appealed a Cape Coast High Court ruling that nullified his election in 2020 and ordered a by-election following a petition.