The Head of European Union (EU) delegation to Ghana, Mr Claude Maerten, has asked government to ensure maximum security to protect vulnerable groups in conflict prone-areas ahead of the December polls.
He emphasized that election security meant more than having police officers stationed at polling stations and that the electorate, particularly women and elders, needed to feel safe enough to participate in the elections.
Mr Maerten made the call at a two-day conference on the theme, ‘’ Civil Society Organisations’ Engagement with Elections 2012; Emerging Lessons and Opportunity’’.
Star-Ghana, is a multi-donor pooled organisation supported by DANIDA, EU,DFID and USAID to increase the influence of civil society organisations (CSOs) and parliament in the governance of public goods and services.
The conference provided a platform for CSOs to discuss election issues such as the role of the media, electoral commission, and Ghanaians in ensuring peaceful and transparent elections.
It also provided a platform for learning and sharing of experiences and good practices in relation to civil society engagement with electoral process.
According to Mr Maerten, the security agencies, especially the police, had a key role to play in providing human security to ensure peaceful and transparent elections.
He expressed worry over the low participation of women in the elections.
“It is quite regrettable that nearly two decades after the Beijing Conference, women continue to be under represented in decision making positions in parliament and in government,’’ he said.
He noted that it was important to ensure the full and equal access of women to civic education, information and training as voters and candidates to combat negative societal attitudes that discourage women’s participation in politics.
“This is especially important because women constitute half of Ghanaian population and their participation will help to promote and consolidate democracy,’’ he said.
Mr Maerten observed that democracy should best serve to facilitate individual and collective expression of freedom of opinion and widest participation in democratic dialogue by all sectors and actors of society.
He, however, urged CSOs to play neutral roles in promoting free, fair, transparent and credible elections, stressing that the involvement of CSOs in electoral process could contribute to building public confidence in electoral institutions.
This, he said, would also serve the purpose of preventing post-election violence as well as strengthen the legitimacy of elections’ outcomes.
The Programme Manager of Star-Ghana, Mr Ibrahim-Tanko Amidu, explained that the conference aimed at providing a platform for partners, particularly CSOs to share experiences, challenges and strategies for the upcoming general election.
“Star-Ghana has consequently awarded over 5 million US dollars to 51 organisations, mainly civil society organisations, at national and sub-national levels to assist them effectively discharge their projects,’’ he said.
Mr Amidu said the money, which was made possible in the form of grant by EU, was geared to increase the accountability and responsiveness of key stakeholders.