Accra, Aug. 4, GNA - The Acting Chairman of the Council of State Mr A. K Deku, on Wednesday urged the ECOWAS election monitoring teams to report truthfully what they see and stand by their election reports to earn them the required credibility.
Opening a 10-day West Africa Sub-Regional Election Monitoring Course in Accra, Mr Deku observed that most of the conflicts in the Sub-Region had their roots in elections disputes and said election-monitoring teams carried an onerous responsibility to maintain the peace in the area as they held the key to a large extent to the maintenance of peace.
Mr Deku said it was important to recognise that elections were only pre-requisites for democracy and were not in themselves sufficient to grant the title 'democracy' to a political system.
"Citizens should have equal rights and should be involved in making important decisions on matters which affect their lives. The issues of transparency, equality before the law and judicial independence are also important elements of a democratic system.
" Democracy is a long term process that requires involvement of the whole society", Mr Deku said.
The 25 participants attending the course in Accra are from Ghana; Sierra Leone; Cote d'Ivoire; Benin; Nigeria; Senegal and Liberia. Organised with funding from the ZIF and the GTZ, both German non-governmental organizations in Ghana, the course is the first of four ECOWAS-endorsed election-monitoring courses to be organised over the next two years.
It is aimed at building the capacity of future Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) election observer missions.
Mr Deku said election-monitoring missions reflected the new approach of a shift of the international community from the definition of human rights norms and standards to a more active implementation of human rights principles and standards after the end of the cold war.
He said the basic international criteria for the validation of observed elections contained in Article 21b of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights required elections to be free, fair, secret and held periodically and genuinely.
Human rights field missions are accepted as part of the protection and promotion of human rights as well as democratisation. The issues of transparency, equality before the law and judicial independence are also important elements of a democratic system.
Mr Deku said in a political atmosphere where the state had its neutrality and trustworthiness questioned, election observation was needed to boost public confidence in the democratic process and to pronounce on the fairness of elections.
"In order to make a fair assessment of any election, members of the observer team must know what to look for and have objective measurements to guide them, the Acting Chairman said, adding that the course was opportune because " there have been many instances where opposition parties have challenged the free and fair verdicts issued by election monitoring teams.''
Present at the opening were Mr Peter Linder, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany and General Chiek Omar Diarra, ECOWAS Deputy Executive Secretary in Charge of Political Affairs, Defence and Security.