The founding Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of Cape Coast, Professor P. E. Bondzi-Simpson, has proposed that money should be released to the Electoral Commission (EC) two years before the conduct of any future elections.
That way, he said, the commission would adequately prepare to ensure the conduct of successful elections in the country.
He was speaking at the opening of a two-day review workshop on Ghana 2012 elections by the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) at Sogakope in the Volta Region.
Prof. Bondzi-Simpson said it was important that an Election Fund be created in line with the recommendations of the Constitutional Review Commission and also assist the EC to become financially independent.
He further proposed to the EC to consider using only HND holders and university graduates as its contract staff during the conduct of elections.
On the creation of new constituencies, Prof. Bondzi-Simpson said it was time the nation took a firm decision on how many constituencies it needed.
He explained that the problem was a deficiency of the law and not the making of the EC.
He also challenged election observers to always disclose the sample size, sampling procedures, indicators and assessments when releasing their results or findings.
The Director of Finance of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mr Yorke Aidoo, said the conduct of the 2012 general elections was very challenging to the commission.
"Last year was a very difficult one for the EC in the conduct of the elections. We have learnt a lot of good lessons from the challenges encountered last year," he said.
Mr Yorke cited the legal challenges regarding the award of contract for the Biometric Voter Registration exercise and the creation of new constituencies as some of the issues which put the plans of the EC in difficulty.
He, however, said those legal challenges had given the commission enough lessons to learn to guide the conduct of elections.
"We will never do anything to compromise the security of the nation," he said.
Mr Yorke indicated that the commission had a sanction regime to punish its officials who breached the electoral law and cited the dismissal of its district officer in Ejura in the Ashanti Region after evidence was adduced after the 2008 elections that he misconducted himself.
On why the commission had still not paid its temporary staff, he explained that the commission over-spent its budget due to some of the challenges it encountered.
He, however, said the temporary staff would soon be paid.
In his welcome address, the Executive Director of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development, Professor Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, said CODEO deployed 4000 Rapid Response Observers in randomly selected polling stations in all the 275 constituencies, including 1,500 Parallel Vote Tabulation observers.
He said the workshop was, therefore, to review the general preparations towards the elections, conduct of the elections, election day and post election developments.
"It will also assess the roles played by the various state and non-state stakeholders in the process; identify opportunities and constraints encountered in the course of playing our respective roles, and the quality of outcomes achieved in our respective endeavours," he said.
Prof. Gyimah-Boadi said the workshop intended to outline measures that could be adopted to secure improvements "in the transparency, fairness, peacefulness and credibility of the outcome of elections in Ghana."
Source: Albert K. Salia/graphic.com
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