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18.04.2007 General News

Code Of Conduct For Elections Administration Outdoored


The International Institute for Democratic and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) has re-launched a book on the Code of Conduct for the Ethical and Professional Administration of Elections in Accra.

The Code of Conduct was designed to assist election administrators by providing general guidelines for their work, Mr Theophilus Dowetin, Programme Manager for IDEA West Africa, told the GNA in an interview yesterday after the re-launch.

He admitted that since Election Administrators faced many different circumstances and situations in their work it would not be practical to attempt to work a firm rule for every possible instance. The code is therefore to be used to meet the requirements of each particular situation.

The 15-page booklet re-launched last Monday focuses on the functions of an Election Administration and Ethical Principles, which demand that election administration must demonstrate respect for the law, be non-partisan and neutral, exhibit transparency, accuracy and be designed to serve the voters.

Mr Dowetin said the success of an election depends on the extent to which it is accepted as legitimate and binding by the participants in the political process. "If the elections administrator fails to follow the laws and apply them equitably and clearly explain the legal rationale for its decisions, the common understanding of the participants would be affected."

Mr Dowetin urged election administrators to act in accordance with the legal frameworks and laws of the country, saying that, laws relating to elections must be strictly implemented in an impartial and equitable manner.

"Ensure, within the legal framework of the country, that every party, candidate, voter and other participants in the election process are treated in a way that is fair and just, considering all the circumstances," he said.

On modalities for a non-partisan neutral electoral administration, Mr Dowetin appealed to electoral officials to act in a strictly neutral and unbiased manner in every matter, avoid any signal that would indicate supporting a political party, candidate, or hindering a voter from exercising his or her franchise.

"Election Administrators must also conduct themselves at all times in an irreproachable manner, exercise sound judgment and observe the highest levels of personal discretion," he said.

The electoral officials are also mandated to disclose any issues that could lead to a conflict of interest with their duties and should not accept any gift or favour from a political party, organisation or person involved in the electoral process.

Mr Dowetin called on political parties, electoral administrators, media and other democratic stakeholders to study the Code of Conduct and constantly encourage each other to abide by the principles.