EC, IDEA organise workshop on inter-party dialogue

Dr. Afari Gyan - Electoral Commissioner

The International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) in collaboration with the Electoral Commission (EC) has organised a day’s workshop to validate a research report on “enhancing inter–party dialogue process” in Ghana.

A statement issued in Accra on Wednesday said it was attended by representatives of political parties and Parliamentarians.

Mr Theophilus Dowetin, West Africa Programme Manager of International IDEA, said the project was undertaken because very little systematic research had been done on the issue.

He said IDEA had received numerous requests from several countries for a comparative knowledge resource on the operationalisation of the inter–party dialogue mechanism.

Mr Dowetin explained that the workshop served as a platform for political parties to reflect on challenges facing the IPAC and make recommendations to make it more effective.

The report indicated that IPAC has helped in bringing about incremental changes in the electoral process like the use of transparent ballot boxes, picture voter ID cards, and the use of numbered seals for ballot boxes thereby contributing to the transparency and credibility of Ghana’s elections.

Some of the challenges of IPAC that were highlighted included diminishing frequency of IPAC meetings, which had made political parties less appreciative of on-going programmes of the EC especially plans to undertake biometric registration.

Political parties thought they could be consulted on matters even relating to district level elections to reduce the voter apathy even though these elections are by law non-partisan.

In addition, the political parties called for IPAC to be statutory.

It was argued that though it is an advisory body, its existence should be guaranteed by law like the Council of State which advises the President on important national issues.

It was also proposed that representation of political parties to IPAC meetings must be equal in terms of numerical strength to afford them equal opportunity for discussions.

This is to prevent the situation where some parties flood IPAC meetings thereby dominating discussions.

It was also indicated that the EC is sometimes heavy-handed and intolerant as it chairs IPAC meetings.

There was therefore a call for the leadership of EC to respect the decisions of IPAC and should not regard it as only advisory especially where there is a general agreement among parties over a particular issue.

On the issue of the need for cooperation among parties, it was imputed that a lot took place among parties especially in Parliament but the media does not see it as newsworthy.

“The media in Ghana is encouraged to focus on the cooperation instead of being interested in only the disagreements among parties“, the statement said.

Dialogue and cooperation between and among political parties is a sine qua non for the sustainability of peace before, during and after elections, so a suggestion was made that there should be annual social events or get-together among parties to enhance this dialogue and cooperation.

The research report was presented by Mrs Sylvia N. A. Annoh, Principal Public Relations Officer of the EC on behalf of International IDEA.

Other countries involved in International IDEA’s project to enhance dialogue among political parties include Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Sierra Leone, Senegal, and Togo.

Source: GNA

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