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Politics of Friday, 20 February 2009

Source: GNA

Preparation towards election 2012 should start now

Accra, Feb. 20, GNA - Preparations towards election 2012 should start now, Chief Observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission, Mr Nickolay Mladenov, said at a press conference to present the final report on the recent elections.

He said the Electoral Commission did a good job but said issues about the voter register should be addressed now to minimize controversy during elections and added it was not just a question of having a permanent register and opening it periodically to update it. Mr Mladenov said Ghana was already putting in place some programmes like the National Identification and there had been some ideas on Ghana using electronic or bio-metric voters ID and emphasized that it was better to do that now.

"Many donors are interested in the continual support of Ghana's electoral process and once there is a decision by the government, I am sure they can find international support," he said urging the international community to continue the good work. He also called for the strengthening of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) and said there was the need to open up public discussion in Ghana about the need to put in place a law on financing political party campaign.

"The IPAC should not be a one of thing that works only during election year," he added. While commending the media for the extremely important role they played in ensuring transparency, Mr Mladenov, said it was a bit worrying that in the run-up to the second round some media organizations used unfounded allegations that contributed to heightened tension in the country.

He therefore called on the government and the National Media Commission to strengthen and enhance media regulations especially one that gave political parties equal access to state owned media. Mr Mladenov, who is also a member of the European Parliament said there were more technical issues like electoral boundaries, training of election officials and party agents, political party financing and others that needed to be addressed now. "We are meeting with the Chief Justice, Leaders of Political parties, the leadership of parliament and other stakeholders to discuss such issues,' he said.

He however, said that on the whole, Ghana did well in the way the elections were managed and said Ghana had a sustainable democratic environment.

"The recent election is one that every Ghanaian must be proud of, many African countries should learn from it," Mr Mladenov said. Mr Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi, Head of European Union Delegation in Ghana, said next year's general population census could be a perfect occasion to review the voter register as well as the electoral boundaries.

Giving a background to why the EU brought an observation mission in Ghana, he said they had an invitation by the Electoral Commission relatively late but his organization responded favourably because the EU Observation team did not only go to 'hot spot' countries to observe but also countries that had shown a dedication to a good democratic process. The EU Election Observation Mission was in Ghana from Nov. 1 2008 to January 24 2009. Observers from 24 EU member states were deployed to all the 10 regions to assess the electoral process against international and regional standards. Mr. Sebregondi said the observers were independent in their findings and conclusions and adhered to the declaration of principles for International Election Observation.