03.09.2004 Politics

Parties urged to review Constitution

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Accra, Sep 3, GNA - The Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) and Coalition of Domestic Elections Observers (CODEO) on Friday urged political parties to review their constitution and procedures for holding primaries in line with the country's democratic principles.

In its first report of pre-election monitoring covering June to August 2004, CODEO said the method being adopted by political parties for electing candidates at the primaries to contest parliamentary seats needed a critical look.

"The idea of having a few polling stations chairmen and constituency executives voting to elect parliamentary candidates limits the participation of constituents and also makes the process prone to manipulation," says part of the recommendation of the Report presented by Dr Audrey Gadzekpo, a member of the Coalition.

The Report said the fact that a few people voted might have been the reason for the acrimony that had characterised some of the constituency primaries. It cited the New Patriotic Party primaries at Okai Koi North and the Ayawaso West-Wuogon Constituencies.

The Report said there were several unverifiable allegations of irregular and corrupt practice involving two dominant political parties of vote buying, interference from Regional and National Party Executives as well as hosting of delegate by candidates.

The Report urged the political parties to work towards ensuring the respect for internal democratic principles.

CODEO's Pre-election monitoring activities are to help to maintain the integrity of the electoral process, deter fraud and enhance transparency and acceptance of the outcome by both winners and losers. Findings of the Report touched on voter registration, party primaries, the problem of incumbency and civic education.

CODEO said the conduct of the voter registration was generally successful, except for the Greater Accra Region where logistical problems were widespread.

There were, however, severe difficulties in the photo taking exercise due to the lack of materials in the Volta, Greater Accra, Northern and Ashanti Regions.

CODEO urged the Electoral Commission to introduce an open registration system that would allow an all-year round registration, to allow anyone, who reached the voting age to register.

It said besides cutting down on the several inconveniences and controversies associated with the current system, the all-year round registration would help to cut down cost.

On the problem of the use of incumbency, the Report said party paraphernalia were officially absent from durbar grounds, although several party activists wore party colours.

As a long-term strategy, there was the need to put in place mechanism that could help to reduce the problem of abuse of incumbency the Report said.

The Report commended the political parties and the public for contributing to the peaceful political process during the period. The Report covered events and activities leading up to Election 2004 including party congress, voter education, activities of principal political actors, concluding phases of the registration and the use of incumbency. 3 Sept. 04

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