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07.05.2008 General News

Stop aiding politicians in their unlawful act...Afari-Gyan advises media

By Samuel Agbewode, Ho - Ghanaian Chronicle

Dr. Afari-Gyan, chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC) has cautioned political parties contesting in this year's election to desist from declaring their own results ahead of the EC's. He also advised the media to stop giving airtime to politicians who make such unconstitutional pronouncements, because the media would be responsible for helping to perpetuate violence on the people of this country.

Speaking at the inter party advisory committee meeting at Ho recently, Afari-Gyan noted that politicians should be educating Ghanaians about how thay can improve their socio-economic well-being instead of rushing to announce election results ahead of the official one from the EC.

Dr. Afari-Gyan also urged the media to learn more about the electoral process to enable them to educate the public on electoral proceedings as a way of building the confidence of the people in the electoral process, because Journalists who were not abreast with the process were bound to inflame peoples passions, which he said was not healthy for the nation.

He also appealed to the media to avoid divisive tendencies and to give equal attention to all the political parties. Their reportage should not be centred on a few political parties to the detriment of others, relatively considered as “small parties'. The EC head also warned that such practices by the media were likely to create tension among the parties as well as result in conflict in one way or the other.

Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan also reiterated his position that members of Parliament, ministers of state, DCEs and political parties cannot dictate to the Commission because its mandate was legally spelt out. The aforementioned groups can only offer advice to the Commission which it can choose to ignore.

He said utterances by sections of the public in relation to activities of the Commission in recent times, some of which suggested that the Chairman of the Commission could influence the outcome of election results was a clear sign of ignorance about the electoral process of the country and urged such category of people to be abreast with the electoral process so as to erase doubts in their minds.

The Chairman of the EC pointed out that most of the problems associated with the electoral process were caused by some of the political parties who deliberately register children to take part in the voting process, organizing macho-men to intimidate opponents on Election Day and using illiterates or semi-illiterates as polling agents.

Touching on financial support to the Commission by government, Dr. Afari-Gyan said it would be laudable for the government to meet the financial demands of the Commission and disclosed that no government in the history of the country was able to address the financial demands of the EC, hence the judicious use of what was made available to the Commission in order to perform its duties.

Dr. Afari-Gyan said, due to the numerous challenges confronting the Commission it was necessary for political parties and other stakeholders to support the activities of the EC, so as to help reduce some of the problems. According to the EC head, organizing elections is very expensive and important to every nation because that is the only way to involve everybody in the decision making process of electing a leader.

He said, the cocept of election is a shared responsibility and all stakeholders should help keep the voters register clean and also expressed worry about the situation where political parties aid their supporters to register twice or more saying “the problem about election in our part of the world is that political parties can make a dead person to vote, it is not helping us and those involved should put a stop to this practice”.

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