Media advised to promote responsible reportage
The media has been urged to promote responsible, objective and issue-oriented election reporting and desist from disseminating inflammatory language, distorted information and hate speech.
Government was also tasked to protect citizens’ freedom of expression through different platforms, including the social media to ensure effective election security and that the professional integrity of the security agencies and their plans should not be compromised by political actors.
These were recommendations by the joint delegation of the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute pre-election assessment mission to the country.
Mr Johnnie Carson, former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs said the purpose of the mission, is to support the country’s ability to deliver credible and peaceful elections in 2016.
The recommendations were based on the meetings with stakeholders including the Electoral Commission (EU), political party leaders, presidential candidates, civil society groups, women leaders, statesmen, election security officials and representatives of the international community.
The delegation noted that a concern among Ghanaians over the spread of misinformation and the use of inflammatory language and hate speech in the media escalates tensions and distracts from the policy issues, which are important to citizens.
The delegation recommended that the EC continue to enhance transparency and confidence in the electoral process by expanding and intensifying its engagement through active consultation with stakeholders.
It urged the EC and political parties to utilise the Inter-Party Advisory Committee as a platform for active consultations and dialogue and should disseminate the committee’s decisions widely.
“Political parties should also reaffirm their commitment to peaceful polls as reflected in the Ada Communiqué of May 2016, reject electoral violence in all forms and disassociate themselves from all ‘ vigilante groups’ and their activities”, it added.
The delegation suggested that the political parties and the EC should take active measures to increase the participation of women in political discourse.
It applauded the country’s distinction as a beacon of democratic development in Africa, which include success in conducting multiple national polls since it return to civilian rule and the emergence of the fourth Republic in 1992.
The delegation called on Ghanaian leaders across the political spectrum, heads of institutions, civic leaders, the media and the religious bodies to see the upcoming December 7 polls as a historic moment to further consolidate peace and democracy and preserve the highest interest of the country.
The delegation includes Mike Avwenayeri Igini, former Resident Electoral Commissioner for Nigeria’s Cross River and Edo States, Ms Oby Ezekwesili, Senior Advisor, Africa Economic Development Policy Initiative and Mr Gabrielle Bardall, Scholar and Democracy Assistance Specialist for the Trudeau Foundation.
The rest are Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and West Africa, NDI; and John Tomaszewski, Regional Director for Africa, IRI.
The NDI is a non-profit, nonpartisan organisation working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.
The IRI is a non-profit, non-partisan organisation dedicated to advancing freedom and democracy worldwide.
IRI enables political parties to become more issue-based and responsive, helps citizens to participate in government planning, and works to increase the role of marginalized groups in the political process.