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IDEG Cautions EC Against Unilateral Actions

The Electoral Commission (EC) has been asked not to use its past successes in election administration in the country as a reason to unilaterally take decisions in relation to the biometric registration for the 2012 elections.

The Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) and the Civic Forum Initiative (CFI), a network of civil society organisations, said while past successful elections were commendable, the issue of biometric registration was of national interest and needed co-operation by all for its successful implementation.

It said the EC needed to consider the valid interests and perspectives of others over the biometric registration exercise.

At a news conference to put forward the views of IDEG/CFI on the resolution of disagreements over biometric registration, a national interest initiative, the two bodies advocated dialogue, public education and the building of consensus for the successful implementation of the biometric registration for the 2012 elections.

“What we do before election day provides the quality of the elections and not what happens on the day itself,” the Executive Director of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) and member of the CFI, Mr Emmanuel Bombande, told journalists when he read the statement issued by the two bodies in Accra Wednesday.

While endorsing the use of biometric registration, IDEG/CFI said as a matter of urgency, the public distrust over the process had to be resolved by public education.

In that respect, IDEG/CFI were already engaged in conversation among themselves and with key players on the processes to create awareness, build trust and identify issues of contention for resolution through dialogue.

The IDEG/CFI said the contentions over the biometric registration were as a result of the incapacity of partners to share perspectives on it.

The two bodies, therefore, called on the EC to take concrete measures to ensure that issues raised over verification, quality and the security of the biometric voters register were comprehensively addressed to the satisfaction of all stakeholders in a timely manner.

“We are of the view that unless these issues are urgently addressed, they could pose a serious threat to the credibility of the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections as occurred in 2008. It is also important that all efforts are made to reduce delays to the minimum and raise public confidence in the biometric registration system that is being introduced,” IDEG/CFI said.

Mr Bombande concluded by saying that the way to resolve the issues was by talking and dialoguing, which were part of the Ghanaian culture.

The Chairperson of the CFI, Major General Nii Carl Coleman, in his remarks, said it was the duty of all, as citizens, to raise any issue pertaining to the democratic process that agitated their minds, and in raising them seek resolutions.

The CFI was formed in 2008 during the time of concerns over the bloated national voters register.

With the credibility of the register in question and the potential of disputed elections, the EC called on civil society actors to support the clean up exercise and CFI was formed in response to the appeal.

CFI has as its membership the National Catholic Secretariat (NCS), WANEP, the African Security Dialogue and Research (ASDR), the Office of the Chief Imam, the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC), the Ghana Anti-Corruption Coalition (GACC), Women in Law and Development in Africa (WiLDAF), the Ark Foundation and the International Centre for Conflict and Human Rights Analysis (ICCHRA).

The host secretariat for the coalition is IDEG.