KENYA TAPS GHANA’S EXPERIENCE IN CONDUCTING SUCCESSFUL ELECTIONS

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KENYA TAPS GHANA’S EXPERIENCE IN CONDUCTING SUCCESSFUL ELECTIONS.

A team of Kenyan judges is in the country to engage Ghanaians and other stakeholders on the conduct of Ghana’s 2016 general election. The visit is to prepare judges for Kenya’s national elections later this year.

The team, drawn from the Judicial Committee on Elections of Kenya, has already held discussions with officials of the Judicial Service, the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) and the Electoral Commission (EC).

As part of the tour, the team last Tuesday met with civil society organisations under the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) and the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG)/Civic Forum Initiative (CFI).

The leader of the team, who is also the Deputy Chief Justice of Kenya, Mrs Justice Philomena Mwilu, described its engagements in the country so far as great.

She said an enlightening session with the EC taught them the need to sort out ballot papers before counting.

“In Kenya, we do not sort out the ballot papers before counting. Any ballot mistakenly put in a wrong box, such as a presidential ballot for candidate A or B in the ballot box of a Member of Parliament, is considered as invalid,” she said.

“We thought that was a fantastic lesson for us to learn,” Mrs Justice Mwilu said.

Perspectives

She said the team’s engagement with the Judiciary of Ghana had given it perspectives on how the 2012 election petition was determined, while members of the GBA actively laid out their positions on how election disputes should have been determined.

The Deputy Chief Justice of Kenya said she was also happy with the team’s engagement with civil society organisations and said it had revealed how actively civil society engagements positively affected general elections.

“They have shown us that they are actively involved with the electorate and their engagement is to prevent, rather than cure,” she said.

Judicial activism

The leaders of CODEO and IDEG/CFI, for their part, were unanimous in emphasising that judicial activism, where the Judiciary actively engaged citizens for them to have knowledge of the efficient resolution of election issues was key to election success.

The Chairman of the CFI, General Carl Coleman, and the Co-Chair of CODEO, Mrs Miranda Greenstreet, led the team of civil society members, some of who were the Executive Director of IDEG, Dr Emmanuel Akwetey; a senior research officer of the CDD, Mr Kojo Asante; some members of CFI and CODEO, including a retired EC official, Mr Albert Kofi Arhin, with all of them taking turns to share their perspectives on elections.

Dr Akwetey emphasised how civil society engagements had resulted in the Judiciary also being receptive to engagements with Ghanaians on its work and processes.

He said the Elections Adjudication Manual of the Judicial Service was first introduced in 2008 and it later featured in each election.

He also spoke about the presence of the Chief Justice at the Peace Forum in 2012, where a peace accord was signed by the presidential candidates of the various political parties, committing themselves to peace and right behaviours.

“That gave much assurance to all Ghanaians,” he said, adding that it resulted in the option of parties resorting to the courts after the 2012 elections.

Mr Jonah added that civil society organisations in Ghana had sought to create the conditions that would make election conflicts unnecessary by their engagements and mobilisation.

He said the Election Adjudication Manual was now a training manual for stakeholders.

Mr Asante, in his presentation, said judicial activism and perception of fair play were critical in all efforts to achieve electoral success.

He, however, noted that gaps still existed in prosecuting election violations without the police fearing the powers that be.

BY: CAROLINE BOATENG.

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