Politics of Thursday, 14 June 2012
Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the Electoral Commissioner, has said the challenges to Election 2012 were not for election managers alone but for every stakeholder and the entire citizenry.
"The Electoral Commission (EC) would spare no effort in finding ways to organise and conduct trustworthy elections, mindful of the fact that flawed elections offer a convenient excuse for disgruntled politicians and criminal elements to cause post-election and social disorder."
Dr. Afari-Gyan made the observation at a forum on the theme: "Using the Media to Enhance Transparency and Credibility of Election 2012" in Accra on Thursday.
The forum was organised by Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) to demand accountability from constitutional bodies mandated to conduct elections in the country.
Speaking on the EC's strategy to address key challenges of Election 2012, Dr. Afari-Gyan said as part of ensuring a successful election, "we need to look at issues that threaten the success and credibility of the election".
He said the abuse of incumbency typified by government dominance of the media and the use of party symbols at state functions were some of the basic threats to peaceful elections, adding that, inter-party violence instigated by loosing political party through the use of thugs to cause mayhem was also a concern.
Dr. Afari-Gyan said the defacement of billboards of political opponents and the frequent disregard of the political party’s code of conduct were some of the basic threats of the electoral process.
He said that the media could play a meaningful role in the elections by giving the public accurate and balanced information that would assist the electorate to understand issues and make informed choices.
"When the media performs effectively, it becomes guardian of democracy. When it departs from this path, and descends into reckless and incendiary reportage, it can play havoc, not only with elections but the general peace of the country," he said.
Dr. Afari-Gyan said he was aware that there were programmes in place to monitor performance of the media, to access adherence to proper journalistic principles and conduct, saying "my plea is that the monitoring and intervention programmes should not be limited to the cities, but be extended to the country-side, where the capacity of the local radio to create havoc may be even more pronounced".
Mr. Ransfor Tetteh, President of GJA, said whereas the attainment of free and fair elections was a shared responsibility that went beyond any institution, the Constitution mandated the EC as the lead player in Election 2012.
He said the forum sought to provide a platform for the Commission to inform Ghanaians about its strategies to ensure a free and fair election.**