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26.11.2004 General News

EC urges Election Observers to abide by Code of conduct

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Accra, Nov. 26, GNA - The Electoral Commission (EC) on Friday urged Election 2004 Observers to abide by the laws, regulations and code of conduct governing the presidential and parliamentary elections in the country.

"As a policy, election observers sign an undertaking that they would abide by the laws, regulations and code of conduct governing the elections.

"No observer shall be allowed access to any polling station or constituency centre unless he or she is wearing the official identification issued by the Commission," Mr Kwame Damoah-Agyeman, EC Chief Director, stated at day's seminar for 75 election observers in Accra.

The Seminar was organized by the Centre for Observing Election at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration to support democratic governance in the country. It was to form the nucleus for the establishment of Election Observer studies at the Institute.

Mr Damoah-Agyeman explained that an observer should not offer advice, give direction to, or in any way interfere with an election official in the performance of his or her election duties.

He said the laws preclude Elections Observers from touching any election materials or equipment without the express consent of the Presiding Officer at the polling station or the Returning Officer at the constituency centre.

An observer or observer organization shall maintain strict impartiality in the course of observing the election and shall at no time indicate or express any bias or preference for any political party or candidate contesting the election.

The EC Chief Director warned against the use of any insignia denoting support for or opposition to any party or candidate contesting the elections, "an observer shall not carry, wear, or display on his or her person any electioneering material or any article of clothing of a candidate contesting the election."

Professor Stephen Addai of GIMPA expressed concern about the lack of transparency leading to confusion and instability, which characterized electoral process in many African countries.

"There is always disagreement among the people as to whether the elections has been free and fair or otherwise," he noted. Prof Addai identified the electoral and voting system as one of the elements of good governance and urged African countries to develop close relationship between the State, the private sector and civil society to ensure transparency in elections.

He noted that the concept of good governance in recent times had come into focus in terms of how in the modern society democracy could be adopted to resolve problems such as poverty and corruption.

He explained that the GIMPA Centre for Observing Elections was establish to plan and design programmes that would add value to the electoral process in the country as well as provide structures for promoting and sustaining democratic governance.

The Centre, established in March this year, aims at enhancing the achievement of democratic governance through effective observing and verification of conduct of elections, research and documentation, public education on electoral processes as well as capacity development of election management institutions and structures.

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