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The mission was headed by Chief Observer Tamas Meszerics (Hungarian Member of the European Parliament), who was in Ghana for five days to present the report to the Electoral Commission (EC), the Government, Parliament officials, civil society and political parties, and the media.
The EU EOM’s Final Report reflects the findings which the Chief Observer presented in the mission’s Preliminary Statement, issued just after the 7 December elections. The EU EOM was in Ghana from October to December 2016 and observed all aspects of the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
“The fact that Ghana has experienced a third peaceful transition of power between parties is a testament to the credibility of the country’s electoral process and a credit to its political leaders and its people,” said Mr. Meszerics.
“Moving forward, there are many aspects of the electoral process which Ghanaians should be proud of, but at the same time it is important to build on what has been achieved to ensure that future elections can avoid some of the tension and uncertainty which characterised the 2016 polls and which elections in Ghana are still prone to. Notably, our recommendations seek to make the electoral process in Ghana fairer and more transparent, thereby enjoying higher levels of public and political confidence among all stakeholders. This is the challenge facing future elections in Ghana.”
Mr. Meszerics particularly stated that, “While the elections were competitive and campaign freedoms respected, mechanisms need to be found to address the increasing monetisation of the campaign, a lack of transparency in campaign financing, the misuse of state resources and overt bias in state-owned media. An effective sanctioning mechanism against the misuse of such resources should be established and the EC’s capacity to enforce provisions of the law on political and campaign financing should be enhanced. Further improving accuracy of the voter register would also be helpful.”
With regard to the role of the EC, Mr. Meszerics said: “The EC was reasonably well prepared for the polls, which were ultimately accepted by the contestants. But we should not forget that there was a fractious relationship between some parties and the electoral management body and a lack of timely information at certain key junctures, which exacerbated tensions. These are important lessons to learn from and as such, the EC could focus on further enhancing its transparency and communications, by making sure all decisions and key information, notably on results, are readily available and by making increased use of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee to build improved relations with parties.”
He also reflected on the relatively low level of women’s engagement in political life. He said. “Women play an active role in many aspects of life in Ghana, yet the level of women’s representation as candidates and elected members remains relatively low. This needs to be addressed, and enactment of the Affirmative Action Bill promoting women in governance and decision-making positions could help in this regard.”