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17.04.2012 General News

EC: Over 8 million register to vote

By The Statesman
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The Electoral Commission (EC) has announced that over eight million persons had been registered by the end of the second phase of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR), as against 6.5 million persons anticipated. 

There would therefore be no need to extend the period of BVR. 

The Chairman of the EC, Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan, said this at a forum to deliberate on Election 2012: Ensuring Peace and Credibility, the role of Religious Bodies, Electoral Commission, Politicians, Security Services and the Media, in Accra on Sunday. 

The forum themed, "Be of One Mind, Live in Peace", was organised by the Presbyterian Church, Faith Congregation, Madina Estates, as part of their social- responsibility to contribute to peace in society. 

Dr Afari Gyan made this statement in response to appeals by a section of the public for more time to allow all to get registered. 

He said during registration periods, the numbers declined with time. 

He attributed it to the rush characteristic of the early days of registration. 

"We are sure there is still enough time for Ghanaians to register," he confirmed. 

The EC Chairman admitted that there had been some challenges with the BVR process. 

He said the biometric data collection equipment were sensitive to weather conditions like extreme heat, water and dust. 

He also said trained technicians were available to tackle most of the mechanical failures. 

The Moderator of the General Assembly, Presbyterian Church, Ghana, Reverend Professor Emmanuel Martey, speaking on the role of religious bodies in ensuring peace, said they had a responsibility as part of every society promote national cohesion. 

He said, religious bodies had a mass following, hence, had to collaborate with other stakeholders to educate, mediate, engage, monitor and evaluate the processes towards the exercise of civic rights and duties of individuals in so-ciety. 

He encouraged religious heads to take a neutral stand in partisan politics and take interest in bringing civic knowledge to their members.

He pledged both physical and spiritual support of the Church towards peace before, during and after Election 2012. 

A Senior Lecturer, Department of Political Science, University of Ghana, Dr Alexander Kaakyire Duku, explained that elections were meant to strengthen democracy and not to plant fear of possible violence into citizens. 

He said leaders were elected to serve the country's vision through ideals of political parties they belong to. 

Contrary to this, he said, some political figures were self-seeking and advised citizens to vote based on issues of development. 

To this end he said it was necessary to hold political leaders accountable for resources of the country.

He advised politicians to educate themselves on the actual issues of development and political processes. 

This was to ensure intellectual debates among politicians on development, instead of ignorance and politics of insults they display on the media airwaves. 

A Media Consultant and Member, Board of the Graphic Communications Group Limited, Dr Doris Yaa Dartey, said it was time for the media to challenge political parties to make tangible arguments on why they deserve to serve the nation. 

"This would help the electorate make informed choices in order not to follow political parties blindly," she explained. 

During the elections, she said, the media was to join various civil society organisations to monitor and inform the public on events of the elections. 

Dr Dartey said, "Like a new baby, the renewed democracy of the country needed to be nursed by the media to retain peace.”

She also suggested that "crises management teams" be put in place long ahead of elections, to address potential conflict. 

She said if these were ensured in addition to prayer, violence could be averted. 

The General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Asiedu Nketia, commended the Presbyterian Church for declaring a neutral stand in partisan politics. 

He urged leaders of other faiths to take neutral stance and serve as credible authority to citizens. 

"Leave partisan politics to politicians and allow Ghanaians the right to secret ballot," he said. 

He added that professionals had to desist from attaching partisan politics to professional work. 

Political leaders and party representatives, the clergy, members of security services, members of various media and a cross-section of the public partook in the discussion. 

This allowed for intense education and knowledge sharing in the BVR and other democratic processes relevant to the country. 

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