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19.11.2008 Elections

Political parties, EC and others declare to promote peace

Political parties, EC and others declare to promote peace

Four political parties, and the Electoral Commission (EC), security agencies and other stakeholders on Tuesday signed a declaration in Accra to ensure peace in the December 7, polls.

Mr Peter Mac-Manu, Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Emmanuel Wilson, Youth Organiser of the People's National Convention (PNC) and Mr Ekow Duncan, Director of Operations, Convention People's Party (CPP) initialled for their parties.

The other stakeholders included the National Commission on Civic Education, the Ghana Armed Forces and the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice.

The declaration was initiated by the Graduate School of Governance, Leadership and Public Administration of the Ghana Institute of Public Management and Public Administration to help sustain the country's democracy.

The symposium, on the theme; 'Violence Free Elections: the Role of the Electoral Commission, Security Agencies, Political Parties and Civil Society” provided a platform for stakeholders to outline their strategies to forestall election violence.

Mr. Safo Kantanka, Deputy Chairman of the EC in-charge of operations reiterated the EC's commitment to ensure a credible election.

He said the EC had so far provided an equal opportunity to all political parties and had worked to engender confidence within itself, although there had been some few hitches.

Mr. Kantanka mentioned some challenges as the bloating of the voters register, registration of minors recently the high number of voter transfers.

On interventions to improve credibility of the election results, Mr Kantanka said the EC would this year require that voters had their fingers dipped into the indelible ink, instead of just marking a section of their fingers, in order to forestall double voting.

He indicated that the EC would also stop the practice of validating all ballot papers ahead of the elections and would also ensure all materials were provided on time and adequately.

Mr. Kantanka further hinted that the ballot papers were being printed in six printing house and appealed to political parties to send their agents there to monitor the process.

On his turn, Mr. Nketia expressed dissatisfaction with the EC's pronouncement that it was not in the position to rig the elections.

“The NDC believes that it is one thing saying the EC was not in the position to rig and another saying that the EC will not rig”, he added.

The General Secretary said the apology by Mr Kwadwo Afari Gyan, Chairman of the EC was also not enough to justify a clean voters register and urged the EC to live up to its task.

Mr Nketia however, pledged that the NDC would continue to engage its supporters, religious groups and civil society to sustain Ghana's peace.

Mr Manu hinted that the NPP also intended to come out with an action plan to ensure peace, adding that the party was now waiting for the other political parties to support its adoption.

Mr Manu stated that the action plan had made some proposals suggesting that voters in violence prone areas in northern Ghana were searched before casting their ballots and that there should not be more than one person on a motorbike on December 7.

Mr. Duncan also expressed CPP's commitment to promote peace, saying, “As the party that brought independence, CPP would not promote any violence that will destroy Ghana”.

The PNC reminded political parties that their political ambitions should not override national interest.