The European Union has launched a £ 7 million support for three independent institutions playing critical roles in the country’s electoral process for the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections.
The institutions are the Electoral Commission (EC), National Commission for Civil Education (NCCE) and the National Media Commission.
Launching the support programme, the Head of the EU Delegation to Ghana, Mr Claude Maerten, said in line with the electoral cycle approach, the EU was providing extensive electoral support to civil society organisations through grant contracts of £ 2.4 million.
That, he said, targeted the participation of women in politics funded under the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights through £ 4.5 million contribution to strengthening transparency, accountability and responsiveness in Ghana.
He said Ghana had recorded outstanding democratic achievements and had solid democratic institutions and processes although it had gone through numerous challenges in recent years.
He said the 2008 presidential and parliamentary elections were considered by all observer missions deployed to Ghana as very well organised and transparent, adding that EC was commended for maintaining its reputation for professionalism and impartiality.
Moreover, he said, a wide range of national stakeholders including the NCCE and the NMC, together with civil society organisations, played a major role in effectively managing conflicts, thus preventing electoral violence.
Mr Maerten said many recommendations were made to improve the electoral process by different electoral observation missions following the 2008 election. Those, he said, included the provision of more extensive and permanent voter and civic education through the NCCE, revision of the media regulatory framework and the establishment of a clear monitoring mechanism through the strengthening of the NMC.
The EU, he said, attached high importance to the development and consolidation of democracy and rule of law, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms worldwide.
“Supporting democracy is in fact a crucial endeavour for the international donor community, both because of the intrinsic value of democracy as a political system that helps foster human dignity and the contributions that democratic governance makes towards better developmental outcomes for individual citizens,” he said.
The Chairman of the EC, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, said the EC was getting £ 3.8 million from the total amount, and that the money was to be used to implement activities to build human resource and institutional capacity.
The activities included training courses for election administrators, training programme for registration and polling staff, improvement of the voters register, geographic information and electoral mapping system, and public outreach and voter education.
“The focus on medium-term capacity development of the EC and the promotion of civic and voter education under this support will enhance the EC’s ability to organise future elections and also increase public awareness of the electoral and democratic process,” he said.
The Chairman of the NMC, Mr Kabral Blay-Amihere, said the commission was getting £ 1 million from the EU support, adding that the intervention was most significant for the NMC in its 19 years of existence.
He said the NMC was set up to regulate the activities of the media, and to do that, the commission needed to monitor and evaluate the performance of the media.
With the support, he said the commission would be able to carry out its work.
The Chairman of the NCCE, Ms Charllote Osei, said the commission was deeply appreciated of the support.
She said the £1.5 million the NCCE was getting was significant, as the commission had been under- resourced for the past 19 years.
She said £300,000 was used to procure computers for the commission and that part would be used to purchase motor bikes to reach out to areas that were not accessible.