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25.11.2008 Elections

Borders Won't Be Closed On Dec 7 — Foreign Minister

> Borders Won't Be Closed On Dec 7 — Foreign Minister

The government says it has no intention of closing down any of the country's borders on election day in order not to inconvenience the free movement of people and goods.

 Foreign Minister, Mr Akwasi Osei-Adjei, who announced the measure at a meeting with envoys of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in Accra, expressed the hope that the gesture would be reciprocated with the appropriate vigilance by neighbouring countries in order to forestall or check “any untoward behaviour or movement along the borders”.

The closure of the country's borders to its neighbours on every election day has been the status quo since 1992, a move meant to prevent foreign nationals from taking part in the polls.

Such border closures have been the norm for many ECOWAS countries, including Togo, during its national polls, but Ghana has moved to set a precedent this year with the explanation to allow the free movement of people and also ensure that businesses do not come to a standstill.

He charged the embassies of ECOWAS member states in the country to prevail on their nationals not to participate in the December 7 general election.

He also asked them to advise their nationals to refrain from any acts that might infringe on the electoral laws or the peace of the country.

The minister stated categorically that “the elections are open to Ghanaians only and the principle of non-interference is to be respected”.

The meeting, which came barely two weeks before the general election, was to afford Mr Osei-Adjei the opportunity to brief the ambassadors on the efforts the government and other national stakeholders had made to ensure peaceful, free, fair and transparent elections next month.

The charge to the embassies comes in the wake of various allegations about the participation of foreign nationals in the recent limited registration exercise under the auspices of the Electoral Commission (EC).

Mr Osei-Adjei assured the nation that arrangements were in place to ensure successful elections, adding, “The government of Ghana is committed to ensuring the security of the state and the National Elections Security Task Force is prepared to ensure that a peaceful atmosphere prevails before, during and after the elections.”

He denied allegations that the government was hatching a plot to rig the elections and reiterated that it was committed to holding peaceful and successful elections.

Mr Osei-Adjei stressed the need for ECOWAS to remain focused on promoting peace and stability in the sub-region as efforts were made to address the daunting challenges of socio-economic development.

The acting Dean of the ECOWAS Group of Ambassadors, Mr Hassane A. Toure of Niger, assured the minister that their nationals would be advised accordingly.

He said the countries would act within their competence to help ensure peaceful and successful elections in the country.

StorBy Charles Benoni Okine

   

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