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WANEP project to monitor risks in Ghana’s elections

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Ghana political-parties-The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), has officially launched its Election Situational Monitoring, Analysis and Mitigation Project for the 2016 general election in Ghana.

The Project is designed to monitor, interpret and communicate risks that have implications for the peaceful conduct of elections during the November polls.

It would also contribute to informed decision making and response by key stakeholders to electioneering threats before, during and after the elections.

A key component of the project inauguration was the review and validation of context specific electoral indicators developed by WANEP for the monitoring of violent threats to the electoral process.

The review and validation ensures that these indicators reflect the current political dynamics in order to facilitate generation of strategic options for response.

The draft indicators for Monitoring Ghana 2016 Elections, which covers the pre, election and post elections include: intimidation or harassment of citizens by security forces, unequal access to media by political actors/groups, hate speech along ethnic, religious and regional lines, violent clashes between specific groups, incitement to violence through social media platforms.

Mr Chukwuemeka Eze, the Executive Director of WANEP, speaking at the project launch in Accra, said “the fiercely competitive nature of party politics have been a factor threatening stability, because there is a wide spread perception of elections as a ‘winner takes all’ event.

“This perception, against a backdrop of conspicuous inter-ethnic tensions, raises the stakes and risks for all those involved,” he added.

He said it is even more worrisome that in countries like Ghana with a history of electoral decorum, there is now high level of suspicion and lack of confidence in key state institutions that directly or indirectly superintend the electoral processes.

The Executive Director said politicians are now comfortably pursuing their agenda along ethnic and religious lines than along ideological lines; “hence they are relying more on militia groups like Azorka Boys and Invisible Forces for their security instead of allowing the police and other security agencies to protect the state and its citizens”.

Mr Eze said the responsibility of ensuring that elections in Africa are free, fair and credible cannot be shouldered by ECOWAS, the African Union and their agencies alone; hence there is the need for all civil society organisations and interested parties to make concerted effort to ensure a resounding success.

“We are taking an active responsibility in ensuring that our role moves beyond merely observing elections on the day of elections and issuing reports on what worked and what did not work; to actively address ourselves to long term situational monitoring of the processes, analyses and mitigation of likely violence that could emanate before, during and after the elections,” he added.

According to him, the current political debates and analysis in Ghana, suggests that the November presidential and parliamentary elections are  likely to be conducted in an atmosphere of uncertainty with possible threats to the peaceful democratic transitions and stability; which the country has prided itself in West Africa and the African continent.

Mr Prosper Bani, Minister of the Interior, who officially launched the project, pledged on behalf of government to secure the peace of the nation; stating that he also expects all major stakeholders, especially the political parties to also play their part.

He said the Ghana Police Service, the lead agency in maintaining peace and security, has established National, Regional and District Election Security Task Forces with representatives from all security agencies, presently undergoing training and capacity-building to handle expected challenges.

He noted that, for the start, the Police Administration had prohibited the use of private security forces and the formation of gangs by all political parties as this was in our collective interest to ensure that parties disband all groups whose existence had adverse security implications.

Mr Bani therefore, appealed to civil society organisations, the National Commission on Civic Education, the Information Services Department and other stakeholders to deploy their resources to continuously sensitise and educate the public to desist from tribal, sectional and sectarian politics, which does not propel national development and national cohesion.

Source: GNA

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