We’re on course to hold November 7 elections — Electoral Commission

The Electoral Commission says it has taken the necessary measures to ensure that the presidential and parliamentary elections are conducted on November 7, this year. 

Reacting to concerns expressed by the Majority and the Minority in Parliament  over the intention of the EC to hold this year’s elections on November 7, Mr Christian Owusu Parry, the Director of Administration of the EC,  said the EC had done the necessary groundwork and was confident that the general election would come off on the proposed date.

He stated that the EC had put in place programmes to ensure that the elections are held on the proposed date.

What was left to be done, he said, was for the Attorney-General (A-G) to present the necessary legislation to Parliament to consider.

He was speaking to the media at an event at which the European Union (EU) presented five million euros to support three independent governance institutions involved in the 2016 elections in Accra yesterday.

The three beneficiary institutions are the EC, which was given 2.9million euros; National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), 1.77million euros, and the National Media Commission (NMC), 150,000 euros.

The Majority and Minority in Parliament have doubts about the intention of the EC to hold this year’s elections on November 7.

While the Minority, according to its Deputy Leader, Mr Dominic Nitiwul, said the posture of the EC, especially its Chairperson, Mrs Charlotte Osei, did not support consensus building, and for which reason, there could be problems in the processes towards changing the date, the Majority Leader, Mr Alban Bagbin, said time might not be on the side of the processes for an amendment.

EU support

Speaking at the launch of the EU’s support, the Ambassador of the EU to Ghana, Mr William Hanna, said the EU’s assistance to the EC was aimed at supporting its institutional capacity development for the 2016 elections and beyond.

He said the support would target all aspects of election administration, ranging from pre-election, preparation to the announcement of the results and post-election activities.

That, he stated, included increasing the number of polling centres, conducting voter education, managing election technology, training election officials and poll workers and implementing election-day procedures.

According to Mr Hanna, an informed people who could own the electoral process was key to the elections, hence the EU’s support to the NCCE.

He said the grant for the NCCE would, among other things, strengthen the NCCE’s capacity to educate voters  on the electoral system, including the use of modern media platforms.

He stated that such campaigns would not only target the general public but more crucially, women and marginalised groups, both as voters and candidates.

For the NMC, he said, the grant would support a secure, free and responsible regulatory environment for media practice during the elections.

The planned activities include monitoring the media to ascertain how they cover the key stakeholders in the electoral process, including the political parties, their candidates, as well as the EC; the NCCE and the National Peace Council (NPC), among other bodies.

Intervention

He also said the aim would be to identify the strengths and weaknesses which required regulatory intervention for a balanced and peaceful coverage of the elections by the media.

Touching on election 2016, he said the election was not for the EU but for Ghanaians to chose their government.

“We aim to support not a party, but democracy in Ghana, through an inclusive, transparent and credible electoral process,” he stated.

Violence-free elections

Mr Hanna said the EU also supported the efforts of the NPC and other actors to create the conditions for peaceful and violence-free elections.

He added his voice to the appeals being made to the leadership of the political parties to actively engage for the disbandment of the so-called ‘vigilante’ or ‘militia’ groups that could inhibit the prevailing peace in the country.

He said another important  element of the electoral process everywhere was the existence of a level playing field where all actors had equal opportunities to inform the electorate and where real issue-based debates took place  throughout the campaign.

Mr Hanna emphasised the significance of independent observers of elections, national and international organisations and stated that an EU exploratory mission would soon visit the country to assess if an EU Observation Mission could be deployed for the 2016 electoral process.

Appreciation

The Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Charlotte Osei, said the support had come at the right time and would go a long way to enhance the commission’s work.

The Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terkper, who launched the programme, commended the EU for its immense support for the country.

He said EU’s support and that of other donors had contributed to successful elections and enhanced the economy.

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