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28.10.2008 Politics

Two-hundred ECOWAS observers for Ghana's polls

By gna

The ECOWAS Commission is to send a 200-man observer team, headed by former Nigerian Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, to monitor Ghana's December 7 polls, the body's pre-election fact-finding mission to Ghana disclosed in Accra on Tuesday.

Professor Amos Sawyer, former interim president of Liberia, who heads the mission, said ECOWAS considered Ghana a "trail blazer" of democracy in the sub-region and on the continent, and thus would make its presence felt continuously in the country until after the elections.

He was interacting with Interior Minister Kwame Addo-Kufuor when the mission called on him at his office to enquire about preparations towards the elections.

Prof. Sawyer said ECOWAS was not only interested on events surrounding the immediate casting of ballots but the processes leading to the election and the post-election environment.

"We are not here to tell Ghanaians what to do, but to lend a hand as to what the Commission can do to ensure free, fair and credible elections," he said.

"Ghana has blazed the trail for democracy in Africa, and Africa is proud of this development and progress made over the years. We are very hopeful that results of the elections would be credible and the process would be free and fair."

The Mission has interacted with major actors in the impending elections, including the Electoral Commission, Government, Civil Society Organisations, political parties and their presidential candidates.

Prof. Sawyer told the media that the mission was getting full cooperation from stakeholders and that discussions so far had been "open, frank and informative".

The mission is to submit a report to the ECOWAS President after they find their facts.

Dr Addo-Kufuor assured the mission that whatever the outcome of the polls, it would be regarded as the "sovereign will" of the people.

"The results of the election would be accepted irrespective of which party wins.

"But if the peace of this country is subverted, government would ensure that it is dealt with decisively for law and order to be maintained...there would be peace in this country before, during and after the elections irrespective of what people say.”

Dr Addo-Kufuor told the mission that government believed in principles of democracy, saying, "the government of the New Patriotic Party places the interest of the people of Ghana above all party considerations".

He said the security agencies were poised to ensure that the elections were generally free of violence, and that they had been given express orders to remain politically neutral.

Dr Addo-Kufuor also used the medium to deny as false, rumours that the ruling party was geared towards manipulating the election in its favour.