Friday, March 13, 2015
Sunday, January 4, 2015
Monday, December 8, 2014
In order to avoid mistrust and controversies that characterized previous elections in Ghana, the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) has advised the Electoral Commission (EC) to consider a structured training system for all polling station agents assigned by political parties during elections, before the 2016 election is held.
The Executive Director of IDEG, Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey, who gave the advice at a training programme for journalists in Accra a fortnight ago, further stressed that Civil Society groups, journalists and election volunteers should also be trained to help avoid a system where untrained or unqualified people were involved in the organization of elections.
While asking political parties to build consensus among themselves with some guidelines on the mandate of their polling station agents to bring about harmony, Dr. Akwetey also wanted the EC to motivate and provide resources for volunteers it engaged to give up their best.
Referring to a comment made by Justice William Atugba during the 2012 Presidential election petition hearing at the Supreme Court that: “Elections are won at the polling stations”, Dr. Akwetey observed this is a wakeup call to all political parties to train their polling station agents on their mandate, their roles and boundaries in an election.
According to him, some polling station agents used by the political parties did not even know their roles and limits. As a result, actions and inactions of such agents had often brought about confusion at polling stations among electoral officers, political parties and security officers.
The Executive Director observed that Ghanaians were losing the needed trust for state institutions mandated to do their work and this level of mistrust had often been visited on the EC that, led to tension and violation of electoral processes in previous elections.
Dr. Akwetey said there is enough space for all electoral weaknesses and lapses to be identified and discussed now and the necessary reforms adopted before the next general elections were held so as to avoid things that threatened the country’s democratic credentials that had been recognized by international bodies.
He said most of the electoral reforms made by the EC were purely administrative and called for an integrated electoral reform system that would involve all political actors.
This, he believed, could bring about a more improved and efficient system the Ghanaian people would trust.
Other critical issues IDEG’s boss raised included strengthening of state institutions like the Economic and Organized Crime Office (EOCO) and the Police Service and making them impartial and professional to perform their duty, such as protecting the national interest of Ghanaians.
He also said apart from the EC, Parliament, Judiciary, Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), National Council for Civic Education (NCCE), National Media Commission (NMC) constituted core democratic institutions that should function as pillars on which the success of Ghana’s democracy rested.
However, Dr. Akwetey regretted that these institutions suffered from a serious deficit of trust as the political elite did not trust that these institutions would act impartially by serving all the people, regardless of the individual or group, or political affiliation.
IDEG was making a strong case for its critical proposals for electoral reforms to be considered for inclusion in the constitutional review process before the 2016 general elections.
According to the Executive Director, if these proposals were not adopted in the yet-to-be amended constitution, issues that characterized previous elections would show up in 2016.
But if adopted, there would be a lot of transparency, enhanced democracy and reduced voter apathy.
To this end, he advised Ghanaians to prepare their minds for potential violence in 2016 elections as his institute viewed the electoral process as “not democratic” stressing that the time to act in reviewing the electoral, governance and democratic issues was now since this could only be done throw constitutional review.
He called for the creation of more polling stations to decongest the about 46,002 existing polling stations across the country, a stop to delay in delivering voting materials mainly due to inadequate transportation, creation of multiparty fund, and the need to open up the Executive governance space to allow opposition/minority parties to also be included in the executive.
The programme was the second to have been held in Accra this year by IDEG to build the capacity of selected journalists on Institute’s proposals for electoral reforms and was on the theme; “Towards electoral reforms and the integrity of the 2016 elections”.
Dr. Akwetey believed it was not too late to still make inputs to the review process because if it was not done now, it would jeopardize the transparency and credibility of the 2016 elections and possibly lead to violence.
A Senior Research Advisor at IDEG, Mr. Kwesi Jonah, recalled that in the 1960s, Ghana’s Civil Service was the best in the whole of Africa but today, same could not be said of it, because at that time, there wasn’t much political interference, as is the case today.
He prescribed that for this to be addressed the public sector must be depoliticised, Civil Servants must be impartial, avoid all forms of narrow inward ideologies, restore professional values, restore efficiency and take advantage of technological advancement to be result oriented.
Maj. General Nii Carl Coleman, Chairman of Civil Forum Initiative was also a resource person, with Prof. S.N Woode, Senior Research Advisor and Prof. Kwame Ninsin, Scholar in Science at IDEG, as moderators.
Posted by Gyimah at 10:41 PM