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Electoral Commission to start biometric registration before end of year – Afari-Gyan

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Dr. Afari Gyan - Electoral Commissioner

Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), on Wednesday announced that the commission would commence biometric voter registration before the end of this year.

He, however, dismissed speculations that the EC would use the electronic voting process for Election 2012.

Dr Afari-Gyan was speaking on the third day of a public lecture, organized by the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences with support from the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, in Accra.

The three-day forum, which started on June 27 to 29, 2011, is on the theme: “Elections and the Democratic Challenges in Africa”.

Dr Afari-Gyan, who spoke on: “challenges Encountered in Acceptance of Election Results by Politicians in Africa”, said the use of biometric voter registration in Africa holds the promise of ending multiple registrations.

He explained that preventing unqualified persons from registering for elections requires the collective effort of the Election Management Body (EMB), civil society organizations and the electorate.

Dr Afari-Gyan said in some African countries, in-fighting associated with the nomination of candidates at the party level has generated more rancour and violence than main election campaign.

He said sometimes the EMB place obstacles in the way of some prospective candidates or even sought to disqualify them without justifiable cause, adding that such candidates may be reluctant to accept results when they lose elections.

Dr Afari-Gyan also said insufficient funding or late release of funds may make it difficult for the EMB to roll out an orderly and transparent process, to the discomfort of candidates and voters.

He said the lack of planning may result in inadequate logistics and shortage of materials whiles corrupt officials both permanent and temporary may adulterate results leading to the cancellation of some results.

Dr Afari-Gyan also said that one major flaw in African elections is the abuse of incumbency in terms of the use of state or government property in support of activities of the party in power.

He cited that some governments interfere in elections administration, particularly at the regional and district levels where political bosses wrongly assume the position of election officials.

Dr Afari-Gyan said there was an abiding tendency to turn state functions into virtual party campaign grounds, and also government dominance of the public media is widespread.

He said the crux of the matter is whether candidates mutually respect one another as legitimate aspirants for the office they are seeking.

Dr Afari-Gyan said: “In this connection, certain syndrome tends to afflict some politicians and make it difficult for them to respect their opponents and to accept defeat at the polls.

“We don’t need a specialist for a diagnosis. We only need to watch and listen to politicians carefully to be to tell if they are afflicted with a syndrome”.

Mr Kwasi Amakye Boateng, a Lecturer at the Political science Department, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, who spoke on: “Election Monitoring”, said though the issue of election monitoring is sensitive given its intrusion into the internal affairs of most African countries, the phenomenon had come to stay.

He said the process should be made to work and impact positively on the democratization of the African continent.

Mr Boateng said most Sub-Saharan African countries in the 1990s were forced to introduce democratic reforms as conditionality for financial assistance from the western governments.

He said countries like the USA, Britain, Japan, France, Germany, Canada, Norway and Sweden insisted that African countries who are recipients of their financial aid embark on democratic reforms or forfeit their support.

Mr Boateng explained that in the post-cold war era, Western countries increasingly have made the holding of democratic elections a prerequisite for bestowing legitimacy on governments.

He said many international organizations have put pressure on African governments to hold elections and to invite international monitors to observe the process.

Mr Boateng said some African have failed to invite election monitors whiles others sent invitations but monitors declined to honour the call on the grounds that conditions in those countries were not conducive for competitive elections.

Source: GNA

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