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11.11.2004 General News

Deceptive politicking, bane on Election 2004

By GNA

Accra, Nov. 11, GNA - Participants at a workshop on Elections and National Development, in Accra on Thursday accused politicians contesting Election 2004 of indulging in "deceptive politicking" to win votes.

The participants drawn from civil society organizations, municipal and metropolitan assemblies, and non-governmental organizations said the trend was a dent on the country's fledgling democracy.

They were contributing to discussions on "Civic Engagement for Credible Elections and National Development" at the two days workshop organised by the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG).

They listed the enticement of voters with monetary influence, intimidation of opponents and vague electoral promises as some of the tactics adopted by politicians to wrest political power.

Dr Lehlohonolo Tlou, a Senior Research Fellow of IDEG urged politicians to use Election 2004 as a platform to encourage all the stakeholders to deliberate on key issues of national development. She said the trend during elections was for the political parties to outline their policy proposals and leaving very little space to the people to reflect on them.

Dr Tlou called for the shift of focus from the exclusive group of powerful people determining public policy options to a more inclusive process through which citizens can offer policy alternatives. She said elections offered an opportunity for people to present alternatives for decisions beyond the polls.

Dr Tlou urged the media to lead the crusade to compel politicians to engage in relevant dialogues that served the national interest.

"The challenge with the media, however, is that reports often focuses on pronouncements and actions of politicians, while less attention is paid to what ordinary citizens think and say about the electoral process, elections issues and long term national development." Mr Nii Moi Thompson, IDEG Economist and Research Fellow called for deliberative democracy, which would allow the people to hold the Presidential and Parliamentary candidates accountable for their pronouncements.

In this vein, candidates would be more mindful of the issues presented in their various manifestoes and help build the capacity of the media, civil society, the private and public sectors to create a people-focused approach to issues.

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