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14.11.2008 Elections

EU To Dispatch 70-Member Team To Observe Polls

A 70-Member European Union (EU) election observation mission is to be dispatched across the country on election day, with the high expectation that Ghanaians will make a mature political decision in a peaceful manner.

The Chief Observer of the mission, Mr Nickolay Mladenov, said peace was very important for the expression of opinion in every country, adding that many countries in Africa were looking up to Ghana for good lessons and so it was important to ensure free and fair elections here.

He told journalists at a news conference in Accra that the role of the mission was to contribute to the credibility of the electoral process.

“We hope that Ghanaians will demonstrate political maturity and make their choice in a peaceful and calm manner,” he said.

A core team of seven election experts of the EU election observer mission arrived in the country on November 1, 2008 and are based in Accra, while 24 long-term observers who arrived later have been deployed throughout the country.

Thirty additional observers will be deployed a week before the elections to observe the voting, counting, the tabulation process and the publication of the results.

The chief observer of the mission will make a preliminary statement on its findings 48 hours after the elections, while a final report will be issued two months later.

The mandate of the mission, to be undertaken independently, is to ensure that international standards for democracy, to which Ghana has committed itself, are upheld.

It also envisages to offer an impartial, balanced and informed analysis of the elections under the guidance of the Declaration of Principle for International Election Observation and the Code of Conduct of International Election Observation.

“Let me stress right from the start that we will not comment on the election outcome. We focus on the process. We have no party political allegiances or preferences.

 

We address all relevant issues with regard to the entire election process, including the campaign, the performance of the election administration, the performance of the judiciary and the general environment in which the elections take place,” Mr Mladenov indicated.

Asked what the mission would do in respect of a flaw in the elections, he expressed the belief that the country's electoral system had mechanisms to address those problems.

Mr Mladenov said the mission would meet and interact with the political parties, but pointed out that the opinions of the parties would not be the sole reason for analysis.

The EU has been undertaking election observation since 1993 and, according to Mr Mladenov, the experience had been a learning curve.

The Head of the European Commission Delegation in Ghana, Mr Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi, said the essence of the election observer mission was to play a watchdog role and give credibility to the election process.

He said the EU had, over the years, supported Ghana in several areas of development.

Story by Kofi Yeboah

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