The Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) over the weekend inaugurated a new programme that would deploy observers at the close of voting to monitor the counting of votes.
The Executive Director of IDEG, Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, said traditionally election observation in the country focused on the process of voting at the polling stations and the constituency level but it was necessary they were allowed into the strong room of the Electoral Commission (EC) to give the whole process more credibility.
IDEG was, therefore, going to deploy observers after the voting to observe the counting and was in consultation with the EC to allow observation in their strong room where final results would be collated.
The deployment of observers to monitor the counting of ballots and other activities of the 2008 elections is part of the institute’s project, dubbed “Elections, Public Policies and Accountability.”
The project has three main components; credible elections, peace and anti-violence and national cohesion.
The first component, credible elections has begun with observers already in the field observing the registration of Ghanaians who have turned 18 in 26 districts, clustering 42 constituencies across seven regions where IDEG is already working.
These regions are the Greater Accra, Eastern, Western, Volta, Central, Upper East and the Northern.
The monitoring of vote counting, collation and the declaration of results is also under this component, as well as voter education on rejected ballot papers, voter apathy and the training of polling agents.
Under the peace and anti-violence component, IDEG has plans to bring eminent and knowledgeable individuals from all fields to engage Ghanaians on issues that impinge on peace and the development of the country.
Also, a major public forum, called the Citizens Public Forum, has been planned for all Ghanaians to deliberate on flawed elections and their consequences, drawing specific experiences from Nigeria, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
He said that four forums would also be held with the EC chairman, the Chief Justice, the Inspector General of Police and the National Peace Council for them to interact with Ghanaians and discuss their role to ensure a credible election.
In collaboration with the West African Network for Peace Building, IDEG would also monitor and report on potentially violent conflict trends in all the regions of the country.
With the third component, Dr Akwettey said national cohesion actions???? would involve the convening of a non-partisan eminent citizen’s panel at the national level to discuss public policy issues relevant to the strengthening of national cohesion through equitable development, poverty reduction and eradication.
At the constituency level, Governance Issues Forums (GIF) would be organised to provide a public platform for interaction, debates and dialogues between political parties and parliamentary candidates on one hand and citizens and voters on the other.
He said the GIF foras would continue even after the elections and would become a permanent feature to afford constituents the opportunity to engage policy makers on a regular basis.
DAILY GRAPHIC, WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 6, 2008, PG 16,(BY LINE TAKEN OFF WHEN PUBLISHED)