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16.04.2008 Politics

CODEO To Monitor Polls

By Daily Graphic
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The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) is to field 8,000 volunteers to observe the December 7 polls nationwide.

Funding proposed for implementation currently stands at $1 million, and CODEO has the commitment of donors, mostly international non-governmental agencies, to providing the funds.

The Senior Programmes Officer in charge of Elections at CDD, Ghana, Mr John Larvie, told the Daily Graphic that Domestic Election Observation had become an indispensable character of the country's election process.

“You have only to be on the ground to see the confidence people have in the participation of CODEO in election monitoring,” he said, adding that “sometimes when there is an issue to be resolved at the time of voting, some partners in the process, be it polling officials, party agents or voters themselves, insist on the presence of a CODEO official before anything is done”.

Mr Larvie said CODEO's work was on a voluntary basis; however, funding was needed for the deployment of observers and logistics.

Despite the vital role of domestic election observers, he said that the country had not reached the stage where civil society organisations, corporate organisations and other resourceful bodies deemed it important enough to devote resources to domestic election observation.

On CODEO programme for the election year, Mr Larvie said apart from its pre-election programme, launched in March this year, and the election observation, other programmes had been planned to ensure a credible and conflict-free elections.

These programmes, he said, included the close observation of conflict-prone communities to initiate early warning mechanisms to forestall any clash during or after the elections.

A civic voter education campaign against conflict and violence, he said, had also been planned for selected constituencies, while a parliamentary candidates' debate, first implemented in 2004, had been planned for selected constituencies to afford the opportunity for locals to interact with parliamentary aspirants on public policy issues.

Mr Larvie said although the fielding of 8,000 people on election day with 22,000 polling stations nationwide would seem inadequate, election observation was a sort of research and investigative process by which fielded volunteers in selected areas, through critical observation, documented activities in areas they were operating to be used as a representative summary of what pertained in all other areas.

Co-ordinated domestic election observation began in 1992, but the impact was better felt in 1996 with the participation of civil society organisations under the auspices of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA).

CODEO was first formed in 2000 under the auspices of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Governance (CDD), Ghana, and this year's election will be the third of parliamentary/presidential elections and several of local government elections that it has monitored.

Among other things, the coalition aims at promoting free, fair and transparent elections and has membership that spans youth organisations, and professional and religious bodies.

Story by Caroline Boateng

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