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27 February 2017

EU Observer Mission wants incumbency abusers sanctioned

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The European Union Election Observation Mission in Ghana is calling for a sanctions mechanism to be introduced as a way of solving the serial abuse of incumbency in Ghana’s elections.

In its recommendations to Ghana after a relatively peaceful and successful 2016 elections, the mission also called for a drastic reduction in nomination deposits, including a special dispensation to women.

Speaking at the maiden lecture series at the Centre for European Studies (CES), University of Ghana, Dr Tamas Meszerics, who heads the mission said the lack of neutrality by the State Broadcaster GBC, and campaign financing are key issues the country must begin to look at in its quest to improve on its election management.

The largest international observer mission during the 2016 elections, with 95 observers, monitored Ghana’s election 2016 in December which saw a peaceful transfer of power from the incumbent National Democratic Congress government to the opposition New Patriotic Party.

The election was acclaimed as highly peaceful even though there were a number of issues before during and after the elections.

The incumbent president at the time, John Mahama was accused of vote buying and abuse of incumbency by a number of civil society groups before the elections.

There was an issue relating to the voter’s register with claims that some prospective voters had used their National Health Insurance cards to register contrary to the laws of the country. The issue had to be settled by judges at the Supreme Court.

The decision by the Electoral Commission to disqualify flagbearers of some  political parties following errors committed on their nomination forms  also became a contentious issue which had to be settled at the courts.

The challenges and controversies notwithstanding the election was largely peaceful.

Almost three months after the election, one of the observer missions, the European Union has released a number of recommendations it believes will help improve Ghana’s election administration all the more.

Discussing the recommendations at the first lecture series of the Centre for European Studies of the University Ghana which was under the theme: “Dealing with basic challenges of election in Ghana, lessons from Europe,” Dr Meszerics suggested that another institution should be tasked to monitor and enforce political party campaign finance.

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Under the current arrangement, the political parties are expected to provide details of the sources of their campaign finance as well as expenditure to the Electoral Commission, something the parties have failed to do.

The EU also wants a bill to be sponsored in Parliament which will make it mandatory for 30% women to be elected into Parliament. The observer group also wants the EC to work with full transparency by making all information of public interest accessible.

The Ambassador of the EU delegation William Hanna dismissed assertions the European Union was interfering in Ghana’s democracy.

He said European Union with 28 countries, believe in the values of democracy and will support Ghana and other countries to have a stable, functional democracy.

He said the Union has taken a decision to ensure a long term support for independent institutions like the Electoral Commission and the National Commission on Civic Education and was awed by the latter’s contribution towards a peaceful election.

Chairman of the program, Prof JR Atsu Aryee said each election in Ghana has seen an improvement on the previous one.

He said in spite of the progress, the issue of bloated register, appointment procedures of the chair of the Electoral Commission, abuse of incumbency and women representation will remain key issues of concern in Ghana’s election process.

Director of the Centre for European Studies, University of Ghana Prof Ransford Gyampo in his welcome address stated that the Electoral Commission was not fully ready to organize the elections but somehow it managed to pull off a relatively peaceful and successful election.

He applauded the immense contribution of the EU delegation and its observer mission to Ghana’s democracy and the work of the CES.

 

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