Accra, Nov. 10, GNA - The US on Wednesday announced a 1,164,000 million dollar package to support Election 2004.
Ms Mary Carline Yates, US Ambassador to Ghana who announced the package when she joined the Royal Netherlands Ambassador, Mr Arie van der Wiel and the EC Chairman Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan to launch a handbook for polling agents in Accra.
Out of the amount, 180,000 dollars was set aside to support the training of political party and independent candidates' agents and the holding of district level Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meetings.
The rest being 984,000 dollars was for other electoral programmes. The objective of the project is to ensure that political party agents are trained in the rules, regulation and procedures for Elections 2004 to enable them to play their monitoring role effectively and enhance the overall transparency of the elections.
Ms Carline Yates said, "the three previous elections under the Fourth Republic, Elections 1992, 1996, and 2000 have demonstrated that Ghana's democracy is getting stronger and healthier.
"Ghana is now a leader of sub-Saharan African nations and new African democracies with a record of fair elections,"
The EC through its management of those elections had maintained a high level of commitment to transparency and consensus building and thus earned respect both in Ghana and internationally.
The US support, she said, was to solidify the conduct of peaceful, free and fair elections in the country to ensure that Election 2004 becomes a great success.
On the training programme for Polling Agents, Ms Carline Yates explained that a well-informed polling agent was a crucial asset in the electoral processes hence the need to equip the agents with the rules, regulations and procedures of elections.
She said, "an effective performance by each agent at the polling centres will contribute immensely to enhancing transparency of the elections and will increase public confidence in the outcomes".
Ms. Carline Yates urged the EC to offer holistic training for electoral staffs, including temporary staffs to ensure that "they all receive the same information, understand each others roles and avoid any conflict or confusion on polling day".
She explained that the proper functioning of all polling stations was crucial to the electoral systems stressing that polling stations were "the place where the will of the people will be expressed, and they are the primary stages for counting of votes and declaring results." Mr Arie Van Der Wiel, the Royal Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana described the role of polling agents as a key element for an effective and smooth management of Election 2004.
The Netherlands also provided 220,000 dollars towards the training programme of the polling agents.
He said the aim of the training programme was to offer all stakeholders the same level of understanding of the rules of the democratic game and creating a sufficient level of voter's confidence that the elections were indeed free and fair