Government assures Ghanaians of free and fair elections in 2012

With the time approaching once again to test Ghana’s democratic credentials, the government has affirmed its commitment to ensure that the 2012 elections are held in a free and fair atmosphere.

Such a responsibility, the government said, would be upheld by sustaining the freedom and independence of governance institutions, particularly the Electoral Commission, from political interference or control and also supporting a bold, independent, transparent and accountable judiciary that upheld justice and the rule of law.

President J.E.A. Mills gave the assurances in a keynote address read on his behalf by Dr Christine Amoako-Nuamah, the Presidential Advisor on Policy Implementation, at a forum organised by the International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) in Accra.

The two-day forum, which was on the theme, “Elections, Incumbency, Power: Legitimacy through Integrity”, brought together electoral experts from the International IDEA member countries across the globe to deliberate on electoral processes and the essence of democracy, identify threats to the electoral process and also use the platform to come up with practical solutions to address challenges that threatened the electoral process.

In spite of the success and deepening of democracy in many countries across the world, democracy remains weak or recedes in the face of violent conflict, entrenched autocracy or extreme poverty in vast areas of the globe, a research conducted by the IDEA has established.

In some cases, incumbents have tried to change constitutions to extend their grip on power.

The problem, according to the research, is further compounded by insufficient knowledge, expertise and resources needed to run elections.

Electoral shortcomings, ambiguities and loopholes even in the absence of manifest fraudulent intentions, generate doubts and perceptions that the choice expressed by voters may have been manipulated and distorted, the research has further observed.

President Mills said the government would continually strive to consolidate and protect the country’s democratic gains by implementing people-centred policies for national development, national decision-making and social integration, aimed at providing equal opportunities for all Ghanaians.

Within the wider context, the President said the country would continue to comply with continental and sub-regional conventions on democracy and good governance, such as the African Union Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance which the country had ratified.

In that regard, he said, the country welcomed the decision of the 14th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments of the African Union earlier this year to reject unconstitutional changes of governments and act strongly against governments arising from such changes.

President Mills suggested that the forum look at key issues including the misuse of state resources for political ends, the rigging of elections, disruptive political practices that undermined credible democratic and electoral processes and the abuse of incumbency through the revision of national constitutions to allow for extended term limits of governments.

The Secretary-General of the International IDEA, Mr Vidar Helgesen, called on the international community not to remain silent when some governments attempted to perpetuate their stay in power through electoral malfeasance.

He said on many occasions the international community had failed to act while such regimes distorted the will of the people and called for a global concerted effort to ensure that elections were made free and fair and devoid of acrimony.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni, who is also the Chairman of the International IDEA Council, urged the participants to share their store of knowledge and wide range of experiences on electoral processes to stimulate debate on the practical aspects of building strong institutions for credible, free, fair and transparent elections and good governance.

Source: Daily Graphic

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