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EU Observer Mission’s recommendation, Ghana
The European Union (EU) Election Follow-up Mission (EFM) has threatened to stop performing election-observing duties in Ghana

EU Observer Mission’s recommendation, Ghana

The European Union (EU) Election Follow-up Mission (EFM) has threatened to stop performing election-observing duties in Ghana if its recommendations on electoral reforms continue to be ignored.

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Mr Javier Nart, leader of the EU EFM, has said at a press conference in Accra last month that the EU Election Observer Mission (EOM) had been discouraged that the recommendations it had been putting forward to the Ghanaian authorities and political parties since the 2012 general elections had not been implemented because of lack of political will.

He said key political stakeholders in Ghana had not demonstrated enough political will to meet the EOM’s demands for electoral reforms.

“I do not desire that things could be done from now on, up to 2024, because if no response is given, logically, you can imagine whether we desire to send a mission.

“What is the issue of coming for elections when our recommendations are not addressed.

“It means either the 18 recommendations are totally wrong or some are right but there is no political will,” he added.

Mr Nart was the head of the EU EOM to Ghana in 2020. He is also a member of the EU Parliament.

He said further that the failure of Ghana to implement the recommendations over a long period of time called into question the value of the EU observer mission to the country.

According to the EOM, its goal is to help to improve the conduct of elections in Ghana and to raise it to high international standard.

The recommended election reforms could contribute to the enhancement of transparency, inclusiveness and credibility of elections in Ghana.

According to Mr Nart, it costs the EOM millions of euros to send its team to Ghana and since they were coming to the country at the request of Ghana, it was necessary for the country to cooperate with the mission to continue its work.

 He said the Electoral Commission of Ghana had shown its intention to implement six of the 18 recommendations made by the EOM.

“Legal reforms remain unaddressed and so, we need the political parties to take action,” Mr Nart added.

For the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections, the EOM presented its final reports in 2021.

That final report was regarded as a comprehensive assessment of the electoral process in the country.

“The conclusion in the mission’s final report was that the elections were efficiently organised, competitive; that voters’ participated freely in large numbers and that the process successfully met a range of international standards.”

He added that the overall conduct of the December 2020 voting was assessed positively in 95 per cent of polling stations observed.

The conclusions of the final report on the December 2020 elections, indicated that Ghana did not do badly. The EU EOM even congratulated Ghana for conducting free, fair and transparent elections.       

However, the problem has been the pace at which, in the words of the EOM, it was taking Ghana to implement its recommendations.

There are indications that some of the 18 recommendations could be met within a reasonable time-frame.

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These include control of political parties’ financing by legislation, abuse of incumbency, use of state resources for election purposes, vote-buying, improved procedure for vote counting and collation and publication of detailed election results.

The Electoral Commission of Ghana has indicated that it was working to implement the EOM’s recommendations in some areas.

What have become hard nuts to crack among the recommendations, it appears, are those that embody issues such as an affirmative action law directed at raising, to 30 per cent, the quota of women participation in politics, including Parliament.

Mr Nart and his colleagues wanted the political parties and Parliament to work towards the realisation of that objective in a reasonable time limit.

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Ghana joined the rest of the world in embracing the gender balance idea and how to close the gap between the number of women and men in executive positions at public institutions.

The Beijing conference on gender equality of 1995 presented some key areas where urgent action should be taken to eliminate discrimination against women, to close the gender gap.

A Beijing Platform for Action of that conference stated that protection and promotion of women’s rights should be the first responsibility of all national governments.

Through the UN Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), UN member states have made progress in removing discrimination against women in many areas.

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On narrowing the gap between men and women in leadership positions in public institutions, the platform had proposed that where there was no capacity for women to compete for jobs with men for higher positions, that deficiency must be corrected by building capacity through education and training.

Where there was capacity, it must be enhanced by further training.

Since 1995, Ghana has been creating opportunities for girls and women to enable them occupy positions of authority in both private and public institutions -- by way of educating the girl child and empowering women.

On the number of women in politics, especially in the executive and parliamentary arms of government, there have been some improvements.

For example, the number of women in Parliament has increased to 40, out of 275 MPs, as at 2023. That represents 14.5 per cent.

 

What should be done to increase the number?         

Political parties in Ghana are not inclined to fix a quota for women on their parliamentary primaries’ list as the EOM has suggested.

Their feelings have been that it is not competitive, democratic and efficient to reserve a quota of seats for women in Parliament without due electoral process.

They rather wanted women to build capacity where there is none and to enhance capacity when there is some.

In other words, Ghanaian politicians wanted women to be well educated and skilful enough to compete with men for positions.

They believed that would promote efficiency and lead to higher national economic, social, political and cultural development.

That is why the political parties in Ghana have not responded positively to the EOM’s recommendation on political parties’ quota for women.

Are all the 18 recommendations of the EOM wrong?

I do not believe that all of the 18 recommendations are wrong or impossible to achieve.

There are very good ones among the 18 that the Electoral Commission and the political parties must work together to implement to raise Ghana’s conduct of national elections to higher international standards.

In areas where Ghanaian culture and traditions and economic considerations do not help to promote gender equality, the EOM must give the country more time for those to work themselves out.

I do not believe that suspension of election observing duties in Ghana by the European EOM is the right solution to the problems.

Presence of foreign election observer groups in Ghana, including the Commonwealth, the United States and Canada, the African Union and the Economic Community of West African States, has helped to reduce electoral malpractices and raised the level of efficiency in the conduct of elections and the posture and behaviour of political parties.

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