The chairman of Ghana's electoral commission says the body is committed to ensuring free, fair, and credible elections in this year's general election. Kwadwo Afari-Djan said although preparations are long a process, the electoral commission has put in place measures to ensure a transparent election that would meet both local and international standards. He urged all political parties and stakeholders to constructively engage in the political process. From Ghana's Central Regional capital, Ho, Afari-Djan tells reporter Peter Clottey preparations are far advanced ahead of the general election.
"Election preparations take a long time, but they proceed systematically, and so far so good. We have been preparing well and we are not in deficit," Afari-Djan pointed out.
He said the experience acquired for having been involved in Ghana's previous elections would ensure a better preparedness for this year's elections.
"This is not the first time that I have been involved in elections in Ghana. I have been with the electoral commission since 1992, and we've learnt a bit on the way, and I'm very optimistic that from the point of view of our preparation, the elections should be all right. But as you know, it is not only what we do that makes the elections free and fair, but also what the political parties do and what the electorate do on election day. So, when I say that so far as the electoral commission is concerned, I'm talking about our preparation and our commitment doing the right thing," he said.
Afari-Djan said the electoral commission is working in tandem with all participating parties in this year's elections.
"We are constantly in touch with the political parties. We meet with them in what we call the Inter-party Advisory Committee and we meet them around this time at least once every month to discuss what is happening about things they want to know, what their concerns are and so forth, anything that is connected with the elections," Afari-Djan noted.
He said the electoral commission has put in place checks and balances that would ensure the transparency and credibility of the election.
"From the point of view of the acceptability of the results, you know the built in integrity of the system is very important. You know that in Ghana, we count our votes immediately after the close of the election at every polling station. The parties have agents there and the results of each polling station would be certified by the presiding officer, counter-signed by the agent the agent receives copies to take to the candidate they represent. So, in effect, the political parties can be doing parallel tabulation at the same time as we are tabulating the results they could be doing exactly the same thing from the same source," he said.
Afari-Djan said the electoral commission is not happy about the controversy that surrounded the recent voter registration exercise, for which some political parties criticized the electoral body.
"Infractions were committed by the political parties, so it is rather strange for them to turn around and say they are not happy with the registration exercise. Yes there were reported cases of under age people registering, people coming across the border that are non-Ghanaians or foreigners if you like. The figures that we got from this limited registration would indicate that these reports have some substance. So, we have appealed to Ghanaians and we are going to do an exhibition for the voters register. And we are appealing to the people to go and scrutinize the register and then try to, if you like, help the electoral commission to get rid of names that should not be in the register. But we are not happy with the register. The number far exceeded our estimation and our expectation," Afari-Djan pointed out.