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10.03.2005 General News

CODEO launches report on Election 2004

By GNA

Accra, March 10, GNA- The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO), on Thursday expressed the need for the Electoral Commission (EC) to introduce an " open registration" system, that allows an all-year round registration of people who reaches the voting age of 18. The election timetable should also be announced well in advance to ensure smooth administration of the voting process.

This was contained in a summary of CODEO final report on Election 2004 Monitoring Project and "Ghana's Election 2004, What The Observers' Say", which was launched by Professor Miranda Greenstreet and Justice V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe, co- Chairpersons of CODEO at a press conference in Accra.

The EC, National Commission on Civic Education, political parties and all stakeholders in the democratisation process must proactively get involved in all stages of the voter registration exercise, the report said.

The document threw the searchlight on the use and misuse of incumbency and inter-party Conflict.

The 69-page document, also captured topics like: "Scope of Pre-Election Monitoring", "Party Primaries", "Political Party Development", "Gender Issues and Civic Education".

The report, was a project by the Center for Democratic Development and jointly funded by Friedrich-Naumann- Foundation, the United States Agency for International Development and the European Union through the UNDP.

It expressed concern about the combination of political and official tours by public officials and held the President and the Vice-President culpable.

It said there were instances where visits designated as official were used by the President and the Vice-President to introduce parliamentary candidates of the New Patriotic Party (NPP, solicited the support of voters, made partisan political speeches and included campaign messages in their speeches.

" For instance, in November, on a visit to the Jaman South Constituency, the President was alleged to have asked the people to vote for the NPP parliamentary candidates in the district after he had cut the sod for the construction of a post office."

The document said the participation of women in political life in general and electoral politics in particular remained very weak, despite the campaigns by gender advocacy groups and other gender-centred NGO's to reverse the situation.

It recommended that the various political parties should develop a code of conduct to guide the conduct of primaries. "Political parties should also streamline the rules governing the primaries and strive for transparency and fairness in ways consistent with constitutional provisions enjoining them to be internally democratic."

Touching on voter irregularities the most common incidents reported across the country were intimidation of voters, harassment of voters, improper voting procedures, difficult access for the aged and disabled persons.

The document enumerated threats to burn down district offices of the EC, disagreements between party agents and presiding officers over technical issues, gun shots and unavailability of vehicles to transport election officials and materials to collation centres and absence of security personnel at some polling stations as setbacks to the election process.

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