US Groups Want (Ghana’s) EC To Be Transparent

International Republican Institute (IRI) and the National Democratic Institute (NDI) of the United States of America have observed that Ghana cannot afford an Electoral Commission (EC) that is not transparent, accountable and credible. The international bodies have therefore, charged the commission to do everything possible to ensure that the crucial December general election is conducted in a free, fair, transparent, credible manner and in a peaceful atmosphere so that all the stakeholders would accept the outcome of the process. The EC, under its chairman, Charlotte Osei, is seen by many political pundits as having assumed a posture of arrogance to the displeasure of well-meaning Ghanaians, as this year’s elections draw closer. She has however, parried those criticisms and said she is committed to supervising a process that will be ‘world-class.’ At a news conference in Accra on Friday, Johnnie Carson, former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and NDI Board Member who led the team, said, “The EC should continue to enhance transparency and confidence in the electoral process by expanding and intensifying its engagement through active consultation with stakeholders and public outreach in partnership with civil society organizations and the media.” He said that new measures adopted by the commission such as the proposed electronic transmission of results from polling units, “should be fully explained to political parties and voters, and transparency measures should be provided to avoid suspicion or misunderstanding.” He advised the EC and the political parties to “utilize the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) as a venue for active consultations and dialogue, and should disseminate IPAC meeting decisions widely.”

Parties’ Role

Mr. Carson said the parties should in turn support the processes by re-affirming their commitment towards peaceful polls and disassociate themselves from vigilante groups and their (groups’) activities. He said it was the duty of all the electoral actors, including the EC, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), civil society organizations, the media and the political parties to “expand and strengthen efforts to educate voters about the election process,” and called on the parties in particular to “facilitate women’s participations and promote gender balance in recruitment of polling officers.” He said the government should ensure effective elections security and work towards protecting citizen’s freedom of expression through different platforms, including social, adding, “The professional integrity of the security service and their plans should not be compromised by political actors.” Oby Ezekwesili, Senior Advisor for the Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative (AEDPI) and former vice president for Africa at the World Bank, who was a member of the delegation, said the EC boss had assured the international community that it would not shortchange anybody in the crucial December elections. Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, NDI Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and West Africa, said the commission should continuously engage the parties at the IPAC level and always explain the decisions to the public without any hesitation in order for the public to welcome the efforts being made to ensure transparency and accountability. Barrister Mike Avwenayeri Igini, former Resident Electoral Commissioner for Nigeria’s Cross River and Edo States, underscored the need for the parties to recruit highly-trained agents to monitor the electoral process to complement the EC’s efforts. Gabrielle Bardall, Trudeau Foundation Scholar and Democracy Assistance Specialist, said all the stakeholders, particularly the government, should encourage women participation in politics to bridge the low women representation gap. John G. Tomaszewski, IRI Regional Director for Africa, indicated that the international groups raised the issue of a possible social media ban on Election Day when they met representatives from the Ghana Police Service; and were assured that the government was not going to do anything that would compromise the people’s right to free speech. The IRI and the NDI deployed the international delegation to Ghana from August 8 to12, 2016 to assess preparations for the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections and support Ghana’s efforts to conduct peaceful and credible polls. The delegation met with the chairperson of the EC, presidential candidates, political party leaderships, civil society representatives, women leaders, journalists, election security officials, representatives of the international community and several eminent persons and elder statesmen.

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Posted by on Sep 16 2016. Filed under African News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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