The Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), Jean Mensa, has said there is no way the commission can alter results of an election.
“What we have not done well under this area is to inform the citizens of the involvement of the political parties in all these processes. Therefore, there is the tendency for citizens to believe that the Electoral Commission can manipulate the elections,” the EC boss said at a Christian programme on Sunday.
“It behoves political parties, therefore, to be cautious and decorous in their utterances, as the Electoral Commission cannot change the outcome of the election,” she said.
Delivering a keynote address at the launch of Agent of Peace Campaign at the Church of Pentecost, Burma Camp Worship Centre, in Accra on Sunday, the EC boss indicated that the leadership of the commission continues to strengthen its internal processes.
She said the commission was working to build more transparency and accountability into its operations ahead of the elections.
“We are of the firm conviction that how we conduct ourselves before, during and immediately after the election will be critical to the peaceful outcomes we expect to see on the election day and the days following,” she stated.
“It is important to note that right from the onset of our electoral activities, we engaged our primary stakeholders, i.e. the political parties on all our electoral processes,” she noted.
According to Mrs. Mensa, the impression is often created that the EC takes unilateral decisions, but that is not the case.
“I believe it will be important to educate and inform the public about the involvement of political parties in all our processes,” she said, asserting that the commission gave a 21-day notice for the conduct of the registration, while it gave notice and provided political parties with the softcopy of the provisional register.
She disclosed that as part of ensuring transparency, the political parties are brought on board to monitor the process of printing of ballot papers with the EC and are made to take ballot statistics, besides accompanying ballots to various police armouries.
“Election day, polling agents are present at all polling centres, signed pink sheets at the polling centres as well as constituency collation results sheets, etc. All election day activities are done openly, the BVDs used are also offline and not used for the transmission of results. We also have manual counting,” she stated.
According to her, at the National Collation Centre, “the party agents are also present at the centre to review the results that come in before the results are certified” and added that the commission had increased nomination from two to five days to allow political parties enough time to correct forms.
“This year, we have developed a checklist of key criteria that candidates have to satisfy as stated in the law. This will serve as a guide and provide clarity to the filing process. This, we believe, will introduce transparency and accountability into our processes and buy in from our stakeholders.”
“It will do away with the suspicions that have characterized our nomination processes and the accusation of bias and unfairness that the commission is often accused of. This will help minimize unnecessary tensions and rancour and contribute to peace-building,” she stated.
According to her, the commission has no doubt that the transparency and the accountability it has built into the processes will help promote peace before, during and after the elections.
By Ernest Kofi Adu