The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) yesterday blamed the Electoral Commission (EC) for the tension and uncertainty during the collation of the results in the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections in the country.
It said the lack of timeous information at certain junctures exacerbated the tension and, therefore, called on the EC to focus on enhancing its transparency and communications “by making sure all decisions and key information, notably on results, are readily available and by making increased use of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee to build improved relations with parties”.
“The EC should work with full transparency, making all information of public interest immediately and easily accessible, including decisions, meeting minutes, key legislation, voter registration data and full and timely publication of polling station results,” the Chief Observer of the EU EOM, Mr Tamas Meszerics, proposed.
EU EOM final report on 2016 elections
He said this when he presented the highlights of the EU EOM final report on the December 7, 2016 parliamentary and presidential elections in Ghana at a press conference in Accra.
The report reflects the findings the chief observer presented in the mission’s preliminary statement issued just after the December 7 elections and also contains a series of recommendations for consideration by the authorities on how to further improve future elections.
The mission was in the country under the invitation of the EC from October to December 2016 and observed all aspects of the presidential and parliamentary elections.
Mr Meszerics called for the enhancement of the capacity of the EC to enforce the provisions of the law on political/campaign finance in order to ensure utmost transparency and accountability.
On sanitising the voter register, the EU said, “The EC should be given the right to apply to the court to remove deceased and other unqualified persons from the provisional voter register based on information provided by relevant state institutions.”
He gave thumbs-up for what he described as “successful and credible to the country, political institutions and the people of Ghana who were willing to participate in the elections.”
Mr Meszerics said the election process was a laudable, commendable and credible even though there were some shortfalls, which he said were not unique to Ghana but a feature of democracy.
“The fact that Ghana has experienced a third peaceful transition of power among parties is a testament to the credibility of the country’s electoral process and a credit to its political leaders and the people,” he said.
Right to Information Bill
Mr Meszerics noted that one of its recommendations was the need for a timely passage of the Right to Information Bill to help increase the confidence in the electoral process.
He said the EU believed that with the passage of such a bill, it would empower civil society and other stakeholders to have easier access to information which would help reduce the tension as witnessed in every election in the country.
The EU EOM, according to Mr Meszerics, observed that there was an over bias of state-owned media in favour of the government then in power.
“We believe GBC should be reformed to ensure that it fulfils its obligation as a public broadcaster,” he said, adding that there was the need for a mechanism to ensure the independence of the state-owned media and a regulatory mechanism to guarantee impartialities and bias of state-owned media, with special regard to campaign times.
In an interview in reaction to the press conference, the Campaign Manager of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in the 2016 election, Mr Peter Mac Manu, corroborated the aspect of bias in favour of the then ruling government, saying that the NPP had the occasion to complain about it and urged the media to differentiate between government activities and political campaigns.
He called for the need to enact laws, citing Senegal which had it in its statutory books that six months to elections, government could not inaugurate new projects, and called for a national discourse in that regard, stating the cut-off point for when an incumbent could not inaugurate a new project.