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14.04.2008 General News

E.C. Launches Rules For 2008 Elections

By Edmund Mingle - newtimesonline.com

The Electoral Commission yesterday set the ground rules for election observation for the December Presidential and Parliamentary elections with the launching of a guide book the Framework for Domestic Election Observation.

'If the EC is expected to carry out its activities in a professional manner, it stands to reason that the observation of those activities must also be done in a professional manner,' Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the EC, said as he launched the book.

The 18 page book has nine sections that cover the basic elements of election observation, including the rules for deploying observers, and the difference between observation and monitoring.

It also sets out the EC’s accreditation requirements and provides information on the EC’s regional offices. It requires observer groups to use approved standards in election observation report writing after the election.

Among other things, the guide reminds observers that their mission is to observe and not to supervise as well as find 'fact' and not to find 'fault,' indicating that election observation requires a display of integrity and non-partisanship.

The guide book, which was produced with support from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, is expected to create a congenial environment for election observation for peaceful and credible polls.

Dr Afari-Gyan, noted that the guide was important in ensuring that all stakeholders, especially observers, in the election process acted responsibly.

He said the work of observers is to gather and interpret verifiable facts for the purposes of making informed judgments about an election, adding that the judgment an observer group is required to make is whether the election went on well on the whole.

He noted that although an observer group may notice some irregularities, 'it must then judiciously assess the ways in which the irregularities might have affected the eventual outcome of the elections.'

He stressed the importance of domestic observation to the electoral process saying, because it is less costly, more domestic observers, who have knowledge of the electoral system and localities, could be deployed across the country.

Larry Bimi, Chairman of the National Commission for Civic Education, commended the EC for introducing the framework and promised that his outfit would support the EC in educating the public about the electoral processes and domestic observation.

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