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09.12.2004 General News

Election 2004 was free and fair - Christian Observers

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Accra, Dec. 9, GNA - The Elections Observation Committee of the Religious Bodies on Thursday gave the thumbs-up to Election 2004 saying the elections were free, fair and devoid of any major intimidation that could have undermined the entire process.

The religious bodies comprising the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference and the Christian Council of Ghana (CCG) said in spite of its peaceful nature, the elections were characterized by few unfortunate incidents.

A statement issued in Accra said the Committee had observed that apart from the insinuating language used in certain campaign messages, some of the political advertisements put out by some politicians and political parties were indecent and inflammatory.

The Reverend Monsignor Seth Osei Agyemang, Secretary General of the National Catholic Secretariat and the Reverend Dr Fred Deegbe, General Secretary of CCG signed the statement.

One significant electoral observation was in respect of improper voter education, which led some voters to misapply the proper procedures in thumb-printing and folding ballot papers, resulting to rejection of considerable number of ballot papers, it noted.

"We noticed with dissatisfaction the use of children to convey some campaign messages. This we view as improper and disrespectful of certain traditional values and practices regarding child-adult relationship." The statement said on Election Day, their observers encountered isolated cases, where minors were employed as party agents and others were seen offering assistance to Electoral Commission staff in their work, contrary to the Electoral Regulations.

It also observed that the physical locations of some polling stations were too close to party offices and places of poor sanitary conditions, which had the capacity to compromise the electoral process. "In spite of the aforementioned concerns, which might have caused some inconveniences or influenced the smooth conduct of the electoral process it is our informed view that the elections were generally free, fair and devoid of any major intimidation that could have undermined the entire process and its outcome."

It commended the Electoral Commission, the political parties, the media and security agencies for the professional manner in which they played their part in the exercise.

"It is our hope that the spirit of transparency and fair play that have generally characterized the electioneering on December 7, 2004, will be sustained by all Ghanaians, while we await the final official results to be declared by the Electoral Commission."

The two bodies trained and deployed about 3,500 observers for the just-ended Election 2004 with financial support from the Catholic Relief Services and MISEREOR, a religious Non-Governmental Organisation. Some foreign observers from the Catholic Bishops in Nigeria and Liberia joined them in the exercise.

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