A European Union (EU) Election follow-up Mission (EFM) in Ghana has said it may suspend its Election Observer Missions to the country if its recommendations on improving electoral procedures do not receive attention.
The mission said it was discouraged that the recommendations it had been making since the 2012 general election had not been implemented due to the lack of political will on the part of key political stakeholders.
“I do desire that things could be done from now on up to 2024 because if no response is given logically, you can imagine whether we decide to send a mission or not.”
“What is the issue of coming for elections when our recommendations are not addressed? It means either the 18 recommendations are totally wrong, or some are right, but there is no political will,” said Mr Javier Nart, Chief of Mission of the EFM.
Mr. Nart, who was the Chief Observer of the EU Election Observation Mission (EOM) to Ghana in 2020 and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) was speaking at a press conference to highlight the findings of the follow-up mission.
He said when recommendations go unnoticed and unaddressed for multiple electoral cycles, it puts into question the value of the observation effort and the valuable work of citizen observers.
Despite the challenges, Mr Nart said Ghana remained an important country and “an Island of stability in the middle of turmoil in the region.”
The country, he noted, had solicited the intervention of the EU to have an observer mission during its elections, adding, “for us (Observer missions) to come here is because Ghana asked the EU to attend to elections and send an observation mission.”
He indicated the expensive nature of the mission, which ran into millions of Euros, which meant that the EU could only have 10 missions annually.
“We send a long-term observation mission that goes and stays in every region and every part of the country concerned. And after two months of a stay there, then elections take place,” he said.
The EFM is an independent, technical mission that promotes discussions and action on the part of stakeholders to strengthen democracy in Ghana, raise awareness on electoral reforms that need attention and assess the status of implementation of EU recommendations offered by the 2020 EU EOM.
The EU EOM in Ghana in 2020 made 18 recommendations to the Country on electoral reforms to improve the electoral procedures in line with international standards.
During the visit, the Mission met numerous electoral stakeholders, including the Electoral Commission, Parliament, relevant state institutions, the judiciary, political parties, media institutions, civil society, and development partners.
Mr. Nart said the electoral commission has so far shown some intent to implement six of the recommendations, adding that, “legal reforms remain unaddressed, and so we need the political parties to take action
He observed the failure to implement some of the recommendations that required legislative power to deepen transparency, credibility and inclusiveness in the election management process was a “missed opportunity for Ghana.”
Key recommendations that have failed to be implemented over the electoral cycles included political party financing regulations, mechanisms to prevent misuse of state resources for election, affirmative action bill to increase participation of women in elections and the inclusive appointment mechanism for members of the EC.