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05.12.2008 Elections

ECOWAS team here to ensure peaceful elections - Gowon

By gna
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General Yakubu Gowon, a former Head of State of Nigeria, has appealed to Ghanaians to conduct themselves peacefully and not to indulge in anything that could bring the name of the country to disrepute during the December 7 elections.

General Gowon, who is leading a team of 200 observers from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to monitor the elections, told the press that Ghanaians must do all within their power to maintain the credibility of the poll and keep the country's strong democratic credentials intact.

He said Ghana had blazed the trail in the independence struggle and was doing so today as one of the few countries on the continent to witness successful transition from one political party in government to another.

While expressing no doubt that the elections would pass without any incidence, Gen. Gowon emphasized that the onus was on the Ghanaians to do all they could to ensure that the country sailed through the forthcoming elections successfully.

He said the ECOWAS Mission was in the country to ensure that the election was free, fair and credible and also that the polls were conducted in a peaceful and orderly manner.

The Mission would be deployed in the Northern, Volta and Ashanti regions as well as other polling stations across the country.

Meanwhile, Dr Mohamed Ibn Chambas, President of the ECOWAS Commission, has urged all stakeholders, including the leaders and followers of the political parties, the National Electoral Commission, the security agencies, the media and the electorate to be mindful of what was at stake and their responsibility to ensure the continuation and consolidation of the proud democratic record of the country.

The elections of December 7 will mark the fifth consecutive time that democratic elections would be held under the 1992 Constitution.

In a statement ahead of the December 7, Dr Chambas appealed to the Electoral Commission to maintain its credibility and the people's confidence in it as a neutral and objective arbiter by conducting transparent, free, fair and credible elections.

Dr Chambas also urged the security services to “remain republican, neutral and apolitical” and inspire confidence in the electorate without an overbearing and obstructive presence in the course of the electoral process.

He asked the political leaders to desist from utterances and actions that might incite their followers to violence or any unlawful acts and tasked them to impress on their followers to cast their votes peacefully and contribute to the maintenance of peace and tranquillity. Dr. Chambas asked the political parties and their followers to accept the verdict of the electorate and to use exclusively peaceful and lawful means to redress any grievances they might have.

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