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General News of Thursday, 23 November 2000

Source: GNA

Peaceful transition will enhance Ghana's stature - US envoy

The US Ambassador, Ms Kathryn Dee Robinson, says a peaceful transition would enhance Ghana's stature as a leader in the sub-region.

"This will serve as a model for the rest of African countries and will further demonstrate to critics of the continent around the world that democracy can work in Africa," she said. "The upcoming elections (in the country) are very important, not just for Ghana, but for all of Africa", Ms Robinson said at the launch of a new Wide-Area Network Computer system for the Electoral Commission (EC) in Accra.

She said the US does not favour any political party in the elections.

"It is for the people of Ghana, not outsiders, to decide which party or individual candidate can best address the challenges of the country in the next few years." She called on all registered voters to appreciate and respect the electoral process and the rights of all in expressing their political preferences.

On the Network system, Mad. Dee Robinson said the project would contribute to the EC's capacity to oversee successful election and to build the confidence of registered voters.

She mentioned the training of election officials, purchase of essential commodities, and private election observers as some of the assistance the US has provided towards the growth of Ghana's democracy. She said the diplomatic corps and staff would observe the elections.

Mr Frank Young, Director of USAID Mission, said the project was at the request of the EC to US to upgrade its computer system for the elections. He said the project funding comes from President Clinton's Education for Democracy and Development Initiative, for which Ghana was selected to receive a special allocation of 2.5 million dollars.

Mr Young said the project involves the purchase of 33 new computer units, high capacity server, printers, networking material and software at the cost 340,000 dollars. He said the network would allow the commission to communicate instantaneously with its 10 regional offices, facilitating the transfer of information throughout the country. He mentioned components of the projects as scanners, which will facilitate visual transmission of images and signed vote tally sheets.

"To ensure security of all communications between Accra and the regional offices, a special software has been included to prevent unauthorized access to any part of the network," Mr Young emphasized.

Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, EC Chairman, said the ultimate aim of the commission is to connect all its offices throughout the 10 regional capitals and 110 district administrative offices to the national headquarters. He said other benefits the commission would derive from the project include enhanced internal communication and with civil society and other electoral commissions the world over.

He expressed the gratitude of the government and the commission to the US government and the Ambassador for the assistance. The EC's website address is