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General News of Monday, 3 November 2008

Source: GNA

Carter Centre concerned about fallout of problems of limited

registration

Accra, Nov. 3, GNA - A delegation from the Carter Centre that assessed the pre-electoral environment in Ghana last week, has concluded that problems arising from the limited registration, including the registration of minors and multiple registrations, have resulted in serious concerns, leading to decreased confidence in the electoral process.

"We remain confident that if all stakeholders work jointly and constructively, these concerns can be significantly alleviated," said Dr. John Stremlau, Carter Center vice-president for peace programs, who led the delegation. "There is still time for preventive and positive initiatives; it is within the power of the Ghanaian people and all stakeholders to show their fidelity to the democratic institutions so that the electoral system will yield results that accurately reflect the will of the people," statement from the Centre received in Accra on Monday said. The issue of under age registrants is, at this point, a resolvable problem, it added.

The Centre commended the parents and faith communities for emphasizing the importance of assisting children in removing their names from the list, if they are not qualified to vote and for recognizing that it is a violation of the law for minors to attempt to vote. "These efforts, in addition to proactive measures on the part of all political parties, combined with the legal and administrative mechanisms in place, would serve to greatly diminish the potential problems of ineligibility," it said. The Carter Centre said it believed that misunderstandings and misapprehensions amongst the parties, as well as between the political parties and the Electoral Commission (IPAC), can be resolved with a more robust schedule of meetings with each other as well as other initiatives to build confidence, enhance cooperation, produce constructive recommendations, and ultimately minimize the potential for electoral related violence. The Centre commended the presidential candidates for their focus on issues and policies during their October 29 debate and said it believed that the tone set by the party leaders was an example for all who desired a successful and peaceful conclusion to this year's election. The delegation met with parties with sitting MPs, the electoral commission, civil society organizations, including domestic observers, representatives of the media, business and faith-based communities, as well as development partners and representatives of the diplomatic corps and the judiciary.

The Carter Centre said it undertook this special pre-election assessment mission to explore issues of concern to Ghanaians that were brought to attention by the Centre's long-term observation. The Carter Centre's Democracy Program established a field office in Ghana in May, after accepting the government of Ghana's invitation to observe the country's 2008 elections. In August, teams of observers monitored the limited voter registration and since September 18, long-term observers have been deployed in the Ashanti, Central, Greater Accra, Northern, Volta and Western regions. They will remain in Ghana until January 2009. The Centre will deploy 50 short-term observers in December, in close communication with many other international and domestic observation missions. Since 1986, The Carter Centre has assisted the Ghana National Guinea Worm Eradication Programme and also observed the 1992 elections.

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