By Lydia Kukua Asamoah, GNA
Accra, Nov. 5, GNA - The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) on Tuesday launched its 2019 Election Support Intervention Programme and urged the media to enhance awareness and understanding of the upcoming Referendum and District Level Elections (DLEs).
The CODEO said the media should, in particular, educate the citizens on the December 17 Referendum, which was about Ghanaians deciding whether Municipal, Metropolitan and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) must be elected.
It explained that the Referendum would enable the citizens to vote either “Yes” or “No” as to whether they support the call to allow political parties to sponsor the District Level Elections and make it partisan.
“...the Referendum seeks the opinion of citizens on whether or not Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution, which is an entrenched clause in the Constitution, should be amended to allow for political parties sponsorship of candidates in future District level and Local government elections.”
“It would be up to Ghanaians to vote yes or no, but no one should coerce anybody to vote yes at all cost,” the CODEO said.
Sheikh Armiyawo Shaibu, the Acting Chairperson of CODEO, who launched the Programme said all eligible voters should participate in the elections, due in six weeks.
The launch coincided with the opening of a two-day training workshop for CODEO civic/voter/peace educators in the Greater Accra region.
“These elections are fundamental to the country’s efforts at decentralisation, which seeks to give citizens more direct control over governance and their local development processes.
“After almost 31 years of our Local Government System, the implications of this Referendum outcome on future governance processes is fundamental and, therefore, requires all qualified Ghanaian voters to do their constitutional duty and make their voices heard on the issue”, he said.
He decried the low turnout in previous DLEs, which was below 40 per cent in the recent local government elections.
Sheikh Shaibu said the low level of interest, participation and the general apathy of many Ghanaian voters towards local government elections attested to alienation, weak political accountability at the local level, affecting the decentralisation agenda.
He said CODEO had, therefore, decided to partner other stakeholders, including the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and the Electoral Commission, with support from USAID, to carry out two major interventions.
These are the civic/voter/peace education activities aimed at boosting citizens informed and peaceful participation in the upcoming electoral process, as well as to promote public trust in electoral outcomes through enhanced election transparency.
Sheikh Shaibu said CODEO had also been hosting voter education training workshops for district and regional directors of the NCCE and its civic/peace educators in the various districts across the country.
He said CODEO would recruit, train and deploy 1,000 observers on the election day to enhance transparency.
Mr Albert Kofi Arhin, the Coordinator of CODEO, said election support interventions were being sought to enhance participation, especially targeting women, the youth, and persons with disability.
“The overall aim is to assure ourselves that we are going to get good governance so that governance and development at the district level would be enhanced…,” he said.
“We are trying to promote trust and accountability through election and conflict management and seeking to contribute to electoral integrity and related political processes as well as achieve accountability in local governance”.
Madam Josephine Nkrumah, Chairperson of the NCCE, said the move to mobilise and educate citizens on the electoral processes, especially on the DLEs was an important step, considering the current apathy that characterised such elections.
She, however, urged stakeholders, especially the civic educators, to carry out their duty in a non-partisan manner, and allow the citizens to vote based on informed decisions.GNA