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Regional News Wed, 10 Sep 2008

EC appeals to chiefs to help clean the voters' register

Kumasi, Sept. 10, GNA - The Electoral Commission (EC) has made a passionate appeal to members of the National House of Chiefs to help it to rid the voter's register of unqualified and illegal names.

Mr Kwadwo Sarfo Kantanka, Deputy Chairman of the Commission in-charge of Operations who made the appeal, said the chiefs could assist in the cleaning up of the register by urging their subjects who had indulged in double or multiple registration to willingly surrender other ID cards in their possession during the exhibition of the voters' register between October 6-11, this year.

He said registering more than once was an offence but if one could come forward to help the Commission to clean the register by surrendering voter ID cards allegedly obtained during the exhibition, the Commission would be more than happy to accept the cards and cancel out the names, adding that, the Commission would not prosecute such offenders.

Mr Sarfo Kantanka made the appeal at a workshop on "Traditional Authorities and Elections in Ghana" for members of the National House of Chiefs in Kumasi on Wednesday. The workshop, which was organised by the National House of Chiefs in collaboration with the Ministry of Chieftaincy and Culture, was under the theme "The Role of Chiefs in the 2008 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections".

It aimed at discussing the roles chiefs could play to ensure that the December elections were peaceful. Mr Sarfo Kantanka explained that the Commission could not rely solely on the political parties to rid the register of unqualified and illegal names because reports from several parts of the country, pointed to the fact that, the political parties played major role in bussing up unqualified persons to register at the various registration centres. He said the Commission saw the additional names on the register as a possible source of violence on election's day adding, "the spectre of violence from what we pick from the newspapers and radio discussions and contributions, looms large. Events of violence in certain parts of the country may be signs of coming events".

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He said as elders and leaders, there was the need for the EC to tap the experiences of the chiefs to prevent violence during the elections. Mr Sampson Kwaku Boafo, Minister of Chieftaincy and Culture, said the need for chiefs to play meaningful roles in the upcoming electioneering process could not be overemphasized. He said in order to maintain the peace and unity within their community, it was expected that chiefs would continue to remain neutral in their pronouncements when politicians called on them. Mr Boafo also called on chiefs to counsel their subjects to be law abiding during the electioneering period.

Professor Kwesi Jonah of the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana pointed out that, Ghana had an image to protect in the international community and there was the need to ensure that Election 2008 was used to advance the course of democracy in the country.

He said Ghanaians wanted free, fair and transparent elections that would promote peace, sovereignty, unity and harmony of the nation. Professor Jonah said chiefs should act to protect the integrity and unity of the nation, stressing that under no circumstances should the country be divided after the December elections. He warned that if the upcoming elections were not handled properly, it could cause the reversal of the nation's journey to democracy. He called on chiefs to serve as the guardians of multi-party democracy in the country by making their influence felt at the community levels and by advising politicians to desist from acts that could bring about violence in the country.

Odeneho Gyapong Ababio, President of the National House of Chiefs said as custodians of the nation's cultural heritage, chiefs must do everything possible to ensure that the gains the country had achieved in the area of democracy, good governance and peace were sustained. 10 Sept. 08

Source: GNA
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