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 Prof. Seidu Alidu (left), Head, Political Science Department, addressing the participants in the workshop. Picture: ERNEST KODZI
Prof. Seidu Alidu (left), Head, Political Science Department, addressing the participants in the workshop. Picture: ERNEST KODZI

Monetisation of politics affects election outcomes — Prof. Seidu Alidu

The Head of Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, Prof. Seidu Alidu, has said the monetisation of politics in the country creates an opportunity for foreign agencies/organisations to interfere and influence the outcome of elections in the country.

That, he said, was by providing support behind the scenes to interfere in the electoral process.

He said foreign influence in an election was dangerous as it skewed the outcome away from the choice of the people.

"The people are the ultimate beneficiaries of every governance process and they should determine who should lead them.

"If you allow election interference to occur, it takes the mandate away from the people to the few groups of elites or countries that interfered," he said.

Interference

Prof. Alidu said this yesterday in Accra at a training workshop on Managing the Risks of Election Interference in Ghana's 2024 Elections.

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He said generally, election interference undermined democratic consolidation and forward movement.

He said election interference also reversed the fortunes countries had made in terms of the forward march of their democracy.

Prof. Alidu said external influence of elections could also weaken legitimacy and public confidence in the electoral process.

Ghana, he said, should care about foreign influence because of its democratic success story.

He mentioned others to include heavily financed political contestation, politicised and fragmented media, exploitable economic crisis and the political stance on Ukraine.

Others, he said, were the critical nature of the 2024 elections, widespread mistrust in the electoral infrastructure, highly polarised information production and polarisation along already divisive issue such as the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual plus (LGBT+).

Prof. Alidu cited election interferences in African countries to include Kenya, Nigeria, Madagascar, Mozambique, Central African Republic, Guinea and Uganda.

In the developed world, he mentioned the US, France and Canada.

Election interference, he said was a purposeful action by state and or non-state actors to influence electoral outcomes.

Solution

To deal with the country's vulnerability, Prof. Alidu said there was the need to improve Cybersecurity preparedness for information, transitioning from manual to electronic vote tabulation and enhance results transmission methods.

He called for increase in the level of transparency in election, promotion of information delivery to clear doubts, enhancing biometric voter registration database, as well as establishing fact-checking mechanism to counter disinformation.

Influencing tools

A Research Fellow of the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr Joyce Manyo, named the influencing tools to include foreign campaign financing, fake news, misinformation and disinformation, propaganda, manipulation of social media information and hacking into the voting system.

Earlier, a Senior Research Fellow at IDEG, Kwesi Jonah, said three major threats were responsible for the democratic retrogression.

In the first place, he said many authoritarian African leaders were reversing their constitutional term limits.

The other, he said was that many African countries — Mali, Guinea, Gabon, etc, were experiencing coup d'etats.

"But threat number three to democracy in our continent is the risk of external interference in our elections," he said and added that it was because of that, that the meeting was being held.

Workshop

The workshop organised by IDEG was aimed at building the capacities of stakeholders on how to identify and prevent the risk of election interference in Ghana,  identifying Ghana’s risks and vulnerabilities to election interference , providing stakeholders with knowledge, tools and skills for designing and implementing counter-election interference strategies.

 It was attended by security personnel, journalists and representatives of civil society organisations,  among others.

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