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21.10.2008 Politics

Rigging in December polls difficult - Afari-Gyan

By Daily Graphic
Rigging in December polls difficult - Afari-Gyan
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The Electoral Commission (EC) has advised political parties, as well as presidential and parliamentary candidates contesting this year's general election, to discount the idea of rigging because there are adequate safeguards to protect the integrity of the polls.

Addressing presidential candidates at an emergency meeting in Accra yesterday, the Chairman of the EC, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, said the country's electoral system had build-in mechanisms to make election results verifiable, as a result of which “it will be very difficult for anybody to cheat in the elections".

He, therefore, charged the candidates to conduct their campaigns with decorum, devoid of abusive language, ethnic divisions and violence.

"As candidates, the form and character of your campaigns will impact on the fairness of the elections," he told them at the meeting, which was called by the EC to update the candidates on preparations made so far for the December polls.

Present at the meeting were Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo of the New Patriotic Pat1y (NPP), Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom of the Convention People's Party (CPP), Mr Emmanuel Ansah-Antwi of the Democratic Freedom Party (DFP), Mr T. N. Ward-Brew of the Democratic People's Party (DPP), Mr Kwasi Amoafo-Yeboah, an independent candidate, and Mr Kwabena Adjei of the Reformed Patriotic Democrats (RPD).

All the candidates were accompanied by their running mates.

Also present to represent the flag bearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) were the NDC Chairman, Dr Kwabena Adjei, and the party General Secretary, Mr Johnson Asiedu-Nketia, while the running mate of the People's National Convention (PNC), Madam Petra Amegashie, represented the party's flag bearer, Dr Edward Mahama.

The EC boss implored the candidates to discuss the issues in order to give the electorate clear choices and options.

"If we all play our roles well, we will have successful elections in December," he told the gathering of presidential candidates, their representatives, the media and party officials.

He said the electorate also had a responsibility to conduct themselves in a manner that would preserve the integrity of the process and stressed that it was important for eve{y voter to ensure that he or she cast a single ballot.

Dr Afari-Gyan also urged the security agencies to act with utmost professionalism “and adopt zero tolerance for violence”.

On the role of the media, the EC Chairman said they were required to provide equitable access for all candidates and report accurately. He also urged the judiciary to deal with all election-related disputes in a fair and expeditious manner.

Later in an interview, Nana Akufo-Addo welcomed the initiative and said it would help create the right atmosphere to ensure free and fair elections.

"This is what Ghanaians are looking for. The major players have a responsibility to ensure that there is peace. We have to make sure that there is dialogue to help us to achieve peaceful elections even if we disagree on matters," the NPP flag bearer stated.

Nana Akufo-Addo described the initiative by KAB Consult, with funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (ClDA), as "yet another stepping stone" that would help achieve credible elections.

The flag bearer of the CPP, Dr Nduom, said his pat1y considered the dialogue -as very important, hence his decision to disrupt his campaign to personally attend the programme.

He was optimistic that it would foster the right kind of atmosphere to ensure peaceful and credible elections.

For his part, Mt Asiedu-Nketia said any forum that was intended to help create a congenial atmosphere for peaceful elections was welcome.

He, however, stressed that beyond the talk, there was the need to demonstrate greater political will to address differences and work towards peaceful and credible elections.

The Chairman of the PNC, Alhaji Ahmed Ramadan, also welcomed the dialogue and said it would help credible and peaceful elections if candidates and their representatives exhibited sincerity and honesty in their deliberations.

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