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Politics Mon, 21 Aug 2006

Office of the Electoral Commission commends media

Tamale, Aug. 21, GNA - Mr Sylvester Kanyi Northern Regional Director of the Electoral Commission has commended the media for their contribution towards the election administration and the deepening of democracy in the country.

He particularly lauded the media in the region for their reportage of the Tamale Central by-election, which, he said, was largely successful and had recorded more than 80 per cent voter turnout, the highest in the country's electoral history.

Mr. Kanyi was addressing a one-day "Electoral Commission encounter with the media," for journalists from both the print and the electronic media in the region in Tamale on Monday towards the forthcoming district level elections.

He said: "The media is one of the most important stakeholders of the Commission in its constitutional duty of election administration. The forum is therefore a strategic thinking of the EC to interact with the media to help enhance democracy in the country".

The Regional Director briefed the journalists on the various processes towards the District Assembly and Unit Committee election beginning with "mounting of platform" by the candidates, scheduled from August 21 to September 9, 2006.

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He explained that the mounting of platform was an avenue created by the Electoral Commission to afford candidates the opportunity to present themselves and their programmes to the electorate, adding that it would also enable voters to verify the suitability of their candidates.

Mr Kanyi announced that there would be mounting of platform in 499 electoral areas and 448 Units in out of a total of 546 electoral areas and 1,020 Units in the region.

He said 1,258 men and 177 women would mount the platform for the District Assembly Election while 5,898 men and 821 women would do same for the Unit Committee poll, beginning from August 21. Giving statistics on district level elections turnout in the Northern Region from 1988/89, when both the District Assembly and Unit Committee were first held in the country, Mr Kanyi said in 1988/89, out of the 433,475 registered voters, 253,487 cast their votes, representing 60.6 per cent voter turn.

He said in 1994, of the 456,387 registered voters, 159.012 cast their ballot, representing a 28.1 per cent voter turnout while in 1998, 389,580 out of the 726,610 registered voters exercise their franchise, representing a 53.6 per cent voter turn out.

In the last district level elections in 2002, the region recorded a 43.6 per cent voter turnout in the polls where out of the 456,181 registered voters, 198,825 cast their votes, he said.

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Mr Kanyi reminded the public that the district level elections were strictly non-partisan quoting Article 248 of the 1992 Constitution to buttress the point.

The Article states: "A candidate seeking election to a District Assembly or any lower government unit shall present himself to the electorate as an individual and not use any symbol associated with any political party".

"A political party shall not endorse sponsor, offer a platform to or in any way campaign for or against a candidate seeking election to a District Assembly or any lower government unit".

The Director gave the assurance that the Commission would ensure maximum security at all the polling stations to enable eligible voters to exercise their franchise without any hindrance.

Mr Amadu Sulley, Director in charge of research, monitoring and evaluation at the Electoral Commission, Accra, reminded journalists to cross-check their facts at all times, especially at elections, to promote the credibility of the polls.

Source: GNA