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Carter Center: Time Remains to Resolve Ghana's Pre-Electoral Problems

For Immediate Release

Contact: Deborah Hakes in Atlanta, 404-420-5124

A Carter Center delegation that assessed Ghana's pre-electoral environment this week concluded that problems arising from the limited registration period, including the registration of minors and multiple registrations, raise concerns that could undermine confidence in the electoral process.

"We remain confident that if all stakeholders work jointly and constructively, these concerns can be significantly alleviated," said Dr. John Stremlau, Carter Center vice-president for peace programs, who led the delegation. "There is still time for preventive and positive initiatives; it is within the power of the Ghanaian people and all stakeholders to show their fidelity to the democratic institutions so that the electoral system will yield results that accurately reflect the will of the people."

The issue of underage registrants is, at this point, a resolvable problem. The Center commends the parents and faith communities for emphasizing the importance of assisting children in removing their names from the list if they are not qualified to vote and for recognizing that it is a violation of the law for minors to attempt to vote. These efforts, in addition to proactive measures on the part of all political parties, combined with the legal and administrative mechanisms in place, would serve to greatly diminish the potential problems of ineligibility.

The Center believes that misunderstandings and misapprehensions amongst the parties, as well as between the political parties and the Electoral Commission (IPAC), can be resolved with a more robust schedule of meetings with each other as well as other initiatives to build confidence, enhance cooperation, produce constructive recommendations, and ultimately minimize the potential for electoral related violence.

The Center commends the presidential candidates for their focus on issues and policies during their Oct. 29 debate and believes that the tone set by the party leaders is an example for all who desire a successful and peaceful conclusion to this year's election.

The delegation met with each of the parliament seat-holding political parties, the electoral commission, civil society organizations including domestic observers, representatives of the media, business and faith based communities, as well as development partners and representatives of the diplomatic corps and the judiciary. 

The Carter Center undertook this special pre-election assessment mission to explore issues of concern to Ghanaians that were brought to attention by the Center's long-term observation. The delegation was led by Carter Center Vice-President for Peace Programs Dr. John Stremlau.  He was joined by two elections experts - former Canadian Assistant Chief Electoral Officer Ron Gould and founder and principal of Democracy International Inc. Glenn Cowan - and Carter Center Assistant Director of the Democracy Program John Marsh. 

The Carter Center's Democracy Program established a field office in Ghana in May, after accepting the government of Ghana's invitation to observe the Dec. 7, 2008, elections. In August, teams of observers monitored the limited voter registration. Since Sept. 18, long-term observers have been deployed in the Ashanti, Central, Greater Accra, Northern, Volta and Western regions. They will remain in Ghana until January 2009. The Center will deploy 50 short-term observers in December, in close communication with many other international and domestic observation missions.

Since 1986, The Carter Center has assisted the Ghana National Guinea Worm Eradication Programme and also observed the 1992 elections.

The Carter Center conducts election observation activities in a nonpartisan, professional manner in accordance with applicable law and international standards for election observation as set forth in the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation. The Center coordinates closely with other international and domestic observer delegations and publishes its statements on its Web site:


"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."

A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers in developing nations to increase crop production. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

Read more about the Carter Center's work in Ghana >>

Oct. 27, 2008: Carter Center Delegation to Assess Pre-Electoral Climate in Ghana  >>

Aug. 26, 2008: Carter Center Releases Findings From its Observation of Ghana's Voter Registration >>

July 25, 2008: Carter Center Launches Election Observation Mission to Ghana >>

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