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Ghana, Accra – A pre-election fact-finding team of the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) is in Ghana to meet with civil society organisations (CSOs) in the country to understand their perspectives and roles to consolidate peace and promote free and fair elections. The ECOWAS team met with representatives of CSOs at the Secretariat of the West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) in Accra, Ghana on Friday October 12, 2012, the last day of its five day working visit in Ghana.
The fact-finding team, led by Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musah, Director of Political Affairs at ECOWAS, seeks to understand the views, expectations and challenges of stakeholders of Ghana’s 2012 Presidential Election. This will enable the team to draw recommendations from their findings which will inform the ECOWAS president’s decision on the specific role of the Commission during the upcoming elections.
Dr. Musah pointed out that his team seeks to get the perspectives of political parties, journalists, the National Media Association, the National Peace Council, police, development partners and civil society. Their encounter with these stakeholders will give them an opportunity to collect information on the state of preparedness of stakeholders for the elections. This will inform ECOWAS on the role it would play during the election process added to its observatory role.
ECOWAS has put in place an elections observation mission comprising 250 observers under the leadership of former president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo. This team has the task of monitoring the December elections with the goal of ascertaining the level of credibility and peacefulness of the elections process.
CSOs represented at the meeting include the Civic Forum Initiative (CFI), Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), WILDAF, Centre for Democracy and Development, Institute of Democracy and Governance (IDEG), the West Africa Elections Observation Team and the West Africa Civil Society Institute. Representatives from these organisations articulated their organisations contributions to ensure that preparations towards the elections are effectively coordinated.
Mr. Sulemana Braimah, Deputy Executive Director of MFWA elaborated on the media monitoring project currently being implemented by the MFWA. He noted that the project which commenced in April 2012 has helped to shape elections related debates on 31 radio stations across the country to focus on issues pertaining to elections rather than on electorates and political candidates. He pointed out that this monitoring exercise has contributed in raising consciousness on the need to avoid libelous language during media campaigns.
Dr. Kwesi Jonah, Senior Researcher at IDEG and Coordinator of the CFI stressed that the CFI “strives to promote peace during the elections period because the signs are not too good” he noted. The CFI works to achieve this through peace education at the community level, raising awareness through forums that convene police heads, community leaders and party leaders and through strategic civic and police collaborations.
CSOs represented at the meeting demonstrated a dedicated interest in promoting peaceful, free and fair elections in December to consolidate Ghana’s credibility as a beacon of democracy in Africa.
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