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15.01.2004 General News

Fresh registration of voters to commence in March

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Kumasi, Jan 15, GNA- The government has made available 80 billion cedis to the Electoral Commission (EC) for fresh registration of all eligible voters in the country, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Commission, said on Thursday.

The Commission has therefore ordered registration materials and that the exercise would begin in March.

Dr Afari-Gyan was addressing the opening ceremony of the EC's two-day election planning workshop at the Miklin Hotel in Kumasi.

The meeting, attended by commissioners and directors of the Commission, political parties and other stakeholders, forms an important phase of preparations towards the 2004 elections, as it would map out strategies to ensure successful organisation of the polls.

The EC Chairman said a credible voters' register is the foundation of a trustworthy election and to achieve this all should join hands to prevent minors and foreigners from registering as well as multiple registration.

Dr Afari-Gyan also touched on the proposed 30 additional constituencies and was emphatic that this "cannot wait." He said the Commission would soon present to Parliament a Constitutional Instrument (CI) that would give legal backing to the 230 constituencies.

Dr Afari-Djan said the Commission had acted within the law and that this had even become more necessary by the creation of new districts.

The EC, he said, is now engaged in realigning polling stations through the relocation of the stations to more suitable places and creating new ones.

Dr Afari-Gyan reminded all Ghanaians about the need to commit themselves fully to observing the rules that govern democratic elections as the nation prepares for the December 2004 elections. "That is the only way to deepen and advance electoral democracy in Ghana".

Mr Paul Adu-Gyamfi, President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), asked Ghanaians to firmly resolve to make the impending elections free and fair by refraining from undermining the integrity of the EC. He said the Commission should be insulated from partisan politics and that its actions should not be seen as an attempt to favour any political party.

Most Reverend Peter Akwasi Sarpong, Catholic Archbishop of Kumasi, spoke of the need to educate and advise those below 18 years to desist from succumbing to attempts by politicians to vote for political expediency.

He called for patience and tolerance among all Ghanaians, adding that people should not just insist on only their rights whilst forgetting that others also have rights. 15 Jan 04

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