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General News of Friday, 8 April 2016

Source: GNA

EC on course with electoral reforms - Charlotte Osei


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The Electoral Commission (EC) is to launch a Five Year Strategic Plan, which aims at ensuring that at the end of five years the institution becomes stronger, better resourced and more independent.

Mrs. Charlotte Osei, the EC Chairman, said that the Commission had started the process of implementing several electoral reforms, some of which were as a result of the recommendations of the Supreme Court in its ruling on the 2012 election petition.

She explained that other reforms were issues that had been agreed upon by a wide range of stakeholders such as political parties and civil society organisations.

Mrs. Osei stated in Accra during the announcement of a four million pounds project fund for deepening Ghana’s democratic process by the British High Commission in Accra.

The project tagged “Deepening Democratic Governance Programme,” is to strengthen Ghana’s democratic governance and promote free, fair, peaceful and credible elections in November.

The project seeks to target the Electoral Commission, the Ghana Police Service, the Judiciary and civil society organisations to be supported to undergo training to upscale their skills in handling security and judicial democratic governance matters.

Mrs. Osei said the EC reforms were towards strengthening the electoral process and ensuring that the institutions were stronger and independent and that the rules were acceptable to all the key players across the political divide.

“These are steps that we are taking to ensure that towards the 2016 elections and even beyond, the electoral landscape is stronger and that the successes that we have built over the past 23 years, we improve upon it,” she added.

Mrs. Osei expressed gratitude to the United Kingdom Government for the assistance towards strengthening Ghana’s democratic institutions.

She said it was impossible for the EC to organise transparent and credible elections without the support of all the other stakeholders such as the police and civil society.

“From the perspective of the EC, we are totally committed to ensuring that the elections this year are credible, transparent and peaceful.

“In addition, within the EC, we have been doing a lot of work internally, on strengthening our own structures, improving our processes and improving upon the platform on which we engage the public,” the Chairman said.

Mr. Desmond Swayne, the United Kingdom Minister of State for International Development, lauded Ghana for establishing a fierce democratic reputation in Africa and serving as a beacon of democracy.

“Whatever government that Ghanaian chose for themselves in November, it is important in my view that you continue to be that beacon of democracy in the region, that other countries would seek to emulate,” he said.

Mr. Swayne said because of the fact that Ghana had become a low middle-income country, this would be the last such funding extended to the country by the UK government towards enhancing the democratic structures.

“That is the measure of your success. We expect you as you go forward to be able to fund your democracy. We expect that the November elections will be free and fair,” he said.

The Inspector General of Police John Kudalor said the Police would collaborate with all state security agencies to create peaceful enabling environment before, during and after the elections.

“The Police are neutral and will ensure free and fair elections,” he said.

The British High Commissioner to Ghana, Jon Benjamin said the support was the UK’s small contribution towards ensuring a peaceful and credible democratic election in Ghana.

He commended the Ghana Police Service for arresting and extraditing some British murder suspects to face trial back in the UK.

Mr. Jones Dotse, a Justice of the Supreme Court, who represented the Chief Justice, assured that the judiciary would continue to ensure that Ghana’s democracy was well managed and sustained.

Dr Rose Mensah-Kutin, the Executive Director of ABANTU for Development, speaking on behalf of the CSOs, said they were positioning themselves to play an active role in the 2016 elections.

Other dignitaries at the launch include Justices Paul Baffoe-Bonnie and Sulley Gbadegbe both of the Supreme Court, and Mr. Victor Smith, Ghana’s High Commissioner to the UK and Ireland.

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