23.10.2004 Politics

Election Observers asked to be neutral

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Accra, Oct. 23, GNA - Mr. Mutari Abubakar, Youth Coordinator of Partner for Democratic Change, non-governmental organization on Saturday cautioned observers accredited to monitor this year's general election to be neutral and to refrain from interfering with the electoral process.

Mr Abubakar was speaking on "Election Observers and code of Conduct" at a day's Greater Accra Regional training of trainers workshop for the Coalition of Domestic Observers (CODEO) in Accra.

The workshop is one of a series being organised in collaboration with the Friedrich Nauman Foundation, and the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) for participants from 34 non-governmental and governmental institutions, religious groups and civic organisations. Mr. Abubakar noted that although election observers, whether local or international, were part of the electoral process, they were enjoined to be neutral, objective and impartial in the conduct of the elections so that their findings, which could help reform and improve the process, were not disputed by contestants.

He said Election Observers should not attempt to interfere with the work of election officials, display political bias, influence a voter, disrupt the voting or counting process and engage in any conduct that compromised the reputation of the CODEO.

Speaking on the same topic, Mr Kingsley Ayettey, CODEO Greater Accra Regional Coordinator listed a seven point conduct, which included an Observer forbidden from touching any election material or equipment without the express consent of the Presiding Officer at the Polling station or the Returning Officer at the constituency collation centre. An Observer shall not carry, wear, or display on his or her person any electioneering material or any article of clothing or any insignia denoting support for or opposition to any party or candidate contesting the elections.

Others are, an observer shall not carry or display firearms or any offensive weapon during the conduct of his or her duties, take reasonable steps to substantiate every statement or information provided in connection with the conduct of the election.

An Observer shall comply with any lawful directives issued by or under the authority of the Commission, including an order to leave a polling station or constituency collation centre.

Mr Ayettey said failure on an observer to follow a lawful directive was a violation of the electoral regulations. 23 Oct. 04

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