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22.02.2004 Regional News

Political parties representatives attend workshop

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Bolgatanga, Feb. 22, GNA- Mr Joseph Whittal, Upper East Regional Director of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) at the weekend urged political party executives to make maximum use of the impending voters' registration exercise to get as many of their members, especially those in the villages to register.

He said political party activists must also assist the process by making legitimate challenges of minors and non-citizens who may want to register illegally, so as to weed out their names.

Mr Whittal made the call when he addressed party representatives and voter awareness educators in the region at a one-day training programme on the replacement of the voters register in Bolgatanga. It was organised by the Electoral Commission (EC) in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and KAB Governance Consult.

The CHRAJ director said Ghana's electoral laws would prevent needless disputes and election petitions in court, and expressed the hope that an attempt would be made in the training programme to bring participants abreast with possible electoral offences that ought to be avoided.

Mr Whittal mentioned legislations on the functions of the EC as it relates to political parties, The Public Elections Regulations of 1996, the Representation of the People Law of 1992 (PNDCL. 284) and the Ghana Nationality Amendment Decree of 1972 (NRCD. 134). "These pieces of legislation are very essential to political party executives who needed to understand them in order to do what the law demands," he emphasised He noted that voter education is crucial if Ghanaians are to ensure a trouble-free and violence-free election this year.

Mr Kwame Damoah Agyemang, Chief Director at the Electoral Commission, explained that multiple registration, registration of minors and none-Ghanaians, and a clear evidence of bloating among other factors, had all gone to render the existing national voters register incredible and unreliable and calls for its replacement.

Besides, the exercise would afford the EC the opportunity to eliminate the names of dead people as well as allow persons who have recently come of age to place their names on the register and exercise their franchise.

Mr Agyemang called on the EC staff to remain neutral in the course of the exercise, and urged party functionaries to desist from pressurising officials of the Commission to recruit party functionaries for the registration exercise.

Regional Director of the Electoral Commission, Mr Iddrisu Adam, cautioned political party agents against any form of campaigning at the registration centres.

Mr Adam also urged registration officials to be impartial and to refrain from wearing party colours while at post.

The Regional Director of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), Mr Adam Cockra who chaired the function, attributed the incidence of illegal mass registration as witnessed in some parts of the country some years back, to the misunderstanding that areas with high registration figures would qualify for the creation of new districts.

He urged participants to let the people in their constituencies, especially opinion leaders, to understand that the voters' register has nothing to do with the creation of new districts or constituencies.

Representatives of some of the minority parties at the workshop said that political parties in opposition lacked the requisite funds to enable them operate effectively and urged the EC, therefore, to solicit funding for the parties.

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