The African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) to Ghana has applauded the Electoral Commission (EC) and Ghanaians in general for ensuring a peaceful and well-administered 2016 general election.
According to the statement, in spite of some challenges faced during the pre-election period, Special Voting and on Election Day, the 2016 election was conducted in a largely peaceful, transparent and credible manner.
AUEOM is expected to do a comprehensive assessment of the election and the entire electoral process in 60 days.
The AU Election Observation Mission, led by Mr Pohamba, a former President of Namibia, arrived in Ghana some weeks ago to monitor the 2016 election.
The deployment of an AUEOM to Ghana reflects the AU Commission’s desire and aspiration to promote good governance, democracy, respect for human rights and justice and the rule of law in all of AU member states.
It was in line with the AU democratic principles and values enshrined in the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. The aim is to contribute to democratic consolidation in Ghana.
The AU Observation Mission comprised observers drawn from the pan-African Parliament, the Permanent Representatives’ Committee, election management bodies, civil society, think tanks and independent experts from 25 African countries.
According to the statement, the pre-election political and electoral environment was generally calm and peaceful despite inflammatory and aggressive rhetorics during the campaign period, which created a climate of fear in some parts of the country.
“The tense political environment was exacerbated by prevalence of vigilante groups affiliated to some political parties as well as the proliferation of illegal small arms,” it said.
The statement said the mission observed political campaign activities and noted that they were hotly contested and generally peaceful.
“However, it noted with concern reports of incidents of violence, intimidation and use of intemperate language across the political divide, more so against some female candidates,” it added.
The statement also raised issues with women participation as candidates, polling staff, party agents and citizens’ observers, describing it as far below the 30 per cent threshold for women political representation as set by regional and continental organisations.
“Out of 1,158 parliamentary candidates, there were only 136 women, representing 11.7 per cent,” it added.
On the election day, the observation that covered 26 constituencies and 339 polling stations across the country, the statement said, polls were opened and closed on time, adding that the atmosphere outside polling stations was generally peaceful.
“There were no major incidents of violence, threats or intimidation observed,” it said.
Concerning some of the challenges, the statement said there were few isolated irregularities, including interferences and underage voting.
“The mission notes reports of some challenges on the election day that, for instance, led to the postponement of elections in some polling stations in the Brong Ahafo Region, and an incident at a collation centre in Tamale,” it said.
The statement called on the government and political parties to adopt affirmative action measures, including gender quotas, to enhance women’s political participation and representation.