Emory Report
November 3, 2008
Volume 61, Number 10



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November 3
, 2008
Working to smooth democracy’s path in Ghana

Deborah Hakes is media relations coordinator for The Carter Center.

A Carter Center delegation visited Ghana recently to assess ongoing difficulties with voter registration processes and other concerns ahead of Dec. 7 presidential and parliamentary elections. The delegation met with the election commission, political actors, representatives of civil society, and the media.

The visit is part of the Center’s ongoing support to Ghana’s efforts to conduct peaceful, credible and transparent democratic elections.

Since arriving in Ghana in July, Carter Center teams have observed voter registration and provided assistance to civil society and domestic observer groups so that they and the public at large are prepared to observe the elections.

“The Carter Center is concerned about the deterioration of public confidence in the elections process and the potential for violence, but we are hopeful that significant improvement can still be made before elections,” said John Stremlau, Carter Center vice president for peace programs and member of the delegation, along with former Canadian Assistant Chief Electoral Officer Ron Gould, elections operations expert Glenn Cowan, and Carter Center Assistant Director of the Democracy Program John Marsh.

The Center’s long-term observers have been deployed throughout Ghana to monitor voter registration, campaigning and other political activities; the first team worked in late July and the current team deployed on Sept. 18. They will be joined by a 50-person delegation closer to election day on Dec. 7.

“Our long-term observers play a vital role,” said Keith Jennings, director of the Center’s Ghana field office. “Their observations help the Center analyze the pre-electoral environment and lay the logistical foundation for the larger delegation.”

Ghana’s 2008 elections are seen widely as a watershed moment that could strengthen its democratic systems as the country approaches the constitutionally mandated end of the Kufuor presidency. With no presidential incumbent or clear frontrunner among the candidates, the political environment is intensifying.

The Center hopes the presence of its international observers will encourage fairness in the electoral process and acceptance of the election results by all political stakeholders.

The Carter Center previously sent a delegation to observe Ghana’s historic 1992 elections, the country’s first democratic presidential election in more than 30 years. In addition, the Center’s health programs have been active in Ghana since 1986 to eradicate Guinea worm disease and prevent trachoma. The Center has observed 71 elections in 28 countries since 1989.