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31.12.2008 Elections

CommonWealth Observers Frown On Media

By Daily Guide
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Commonwealth Observer Group The Commonwealth Observer Group, which is currently in the country for the presidential run-off, says it is disappointed at the persistent circulation of rumours of malpractice in the election, saying the situation could erode voters' confidence in the entire electoral process.

Delivering the Group's Interim Statement on the run-off in Accra yesterday, the chairperson, Rt. Hon. Baroness Valerie Amos, said the issues relating to the contentious political environment and the conduct of the media in fuelling the rumours need to be urgently addressed.

“The Group was particularly concerned that unverified accusations of malpractice made by individuals, as well as by representatives of the political parties, were aired repeatedly by some sections of the broadcast media,” she said.

It noted that airing those unsubstantiated rumours had had some negative impact on the political environment.

“The rumours fuelled suspicions and unnecessarily heightened tension in some constituencies and led to a number of minor incidents resulting from gatherings of hostile crowds”.

The Group, however, commended the professionalism and dedication displayed by the Electoral Commission (EC) Officials.

On the conduct of security personnel, it said even though they related very well with the EC in resolving many issues and incidents on the ground, their high profile in some parts of the country the day prior to the elections may have an intimidating effect on some sections of the electorate.

The Observer Group said in spite of the isolated problems, the 28th December presidential run-off was surely an improvement on the December 7 general elections.

“Building on many of the positives from the first round, and addressing some of the negatives, these efforts helped to ensure that the electoral process was robust and credible, and met the benchmarks for democratic elections to which Ghana has committed itself”.

Present at the press conference were Mr. O.O. Akeredolu, President of the Nigerian Bar Association; Algassimu Sahid Jarr, chairman of the Sierra Leonean Electoral Commission; Ambassador Ayodele Oke, Head of Africa Section of the Commonwealth Secretariat; and Ms. Cynthia Barrow-Giles, Lecturer at the University of the West Indies.

By Bennet Akuaku

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