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26.04.2008 Politics

Ensuring peaceful elections not responsibility of EC alone- Director

Ensuring peaceful elections not responsibility of EC alone- Director
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Mr. Yahaya Mahama, Upper West Regional Director of the Electoral Commission (EC) said on Thursday that ensuring peaceful elections was
not a responsibility of the EC alone.

He said the trauma that some Africa countries were experiencing in the
run up to elections should serve as a warning for all stakeholders, especially political parties, the police, the media and courts as well as the entire citizenry to learn to do the right things to ensure a violent free elections on December 7.

Mr. Mahama was speaking on: "Ensuring a peaceful electioneering and democracy in Ghana" at a three-day training workshop on Decentralisation and
the media in Wa.

He said: "It is always regrettable that other stakeholders who are to play their roles properly to assist the Electoral Commission to conduct credible elections fail to do so but return to tarnish the image and credibility of the EC".

Mr. Mahama noted that the EC has been mandated only to provide the rules and regulations governing the elections but could not arrest or prosecute electoral offenders.

He said it was the duty of the police to ensure that electoral offenders were sent to court for prosecution and possible conviction and urged the law enforcing agencies to be free and fair in their dealings with offenders irrespective of the political party they belong to.

Mr. Mahama urged the courts to avoid legal technicalities and delays in giving judgment on issues involving elections, pointing out that such practices tended to erode public confidence in the ability of the courts to assist them to have justice out of disputes.

"This is why in some countries, the law allows the setting up of special courts to deal with election cases swiftly but in our case, traditional courts have been given the authority to do so and this appears to override the will of the people", he said.

He said this could be dangerous to the peace of the country because when the citizens began to doubt the ability of the courts to deliver justice due to technicalities, there was the tendency for the people to resort to other means to achieve their desire.

Mr. Mahama urged the media to assist the electorate to make informed choices by giving accurate pictures of political campaigns and messages as well as the smoothening of provocative language used by politicians on political platforms.

He advised Ghanaians that the declaration of electoral results was a mandate of the EC and that what they hear on radio stations or by individual persons were not declarations of results but announcement of results.

Mr. Richard D. Kambootah, Head of Programmes of the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS) said it was imperative for citizens to demand good governance from those they have elected into government to administer the affairs of the country on their behalf.

He said it was wrong for any government to exclusively set the parameters within which to measure good governance.

He pointing out that it was the people who must measure the performance of their governments and to determine whether an executive government was rendering good governance.

Mr. Kambootah said governance must lead to the empowerment of people to enable them to construct genuine freedom and genuine development for themselves and their communities.

The ILGS organised the forum for media practitioners, district assembly staff and civil society organisations in the region.

The forum offered the participants the opportunity to review the decentralisation policy of Ghana, as well as familiarise and deepen their knowledge and understanding of key legislations and guidelines to ensure popular participation and local level development.

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