Accra - Ghana — The head of ECOWAS' 250-member Observation Mission for Ghana's 7th December 2012 general elections, Nigeria's former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo has expressed optimism at the success of the polls based on satisfactory preparations and the country's proven tradition and reputation in democratic governance.
"We are here as witnesses to what promises to be peaceful, transparent, credible, free and fair elections," Chief Obasanjo said on arrival in Accra on Monday 3rd December, adding that given Ghana's reputable history, the 7th December presidential and legislative polls would not be an exception.
He commended Ghanaians in general and all the stakeholders, including the national electoral commission, and especially the political parties and their leaders for signing up to a peaceful and violence-free electoral process, towards strengthening and deepening the democratic culture in the country and the region.
The ECOWAS Observation team, led by Chief Obasanjo and comprising representatives of various segments of the West African society, is in Ghana within the context of the region's instrument for provision of support to Member States holding elections.
The President of the ECOWAS Commission, Kadré Désiré Ouédraogo, will also be in the country to provide additional support to the Mission and to express ECOWAS' solidarity with the Government and people of Ghana during the elections.
The ECOWAS Director of Political Affairs, Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musah, who was part of the team that received Chief Obasanjo, explained that Accra would serve as the headquarters and Situation Room for the ECOWAS Mission, with three sub- stations in Kumasi, Tamale and Bolgatanga, from where the regional observers will be deployed to all the 10 administrative regions of Ghana to monitor the conduct of the polls.
Prior to their deployment, the ECOWAS observers will meet with political party leaders and other stakeholders in the country, with a view to ensuring a peaceful environment for the conduct of the polls.
An ECOWAS assessment mission was in Ghana last October to review preparations for the elections during which the mission interacted with various stakeholders, including representatives of political parties, security agencies, civil society organizations, the national electoral commission, and other stakeholders to discuss their perspectives on the preparations for the elections. Friday's polls will be the sixth uninterrupted general elections in Ghana with three peaceful alternations of power in the country since 1992.
This time round, over 13 million Ghanaian biometric registered voters will elect a president out of eight presidential candidates and from the 275 candidates seeking to be elected into the country's 230-member parliament.
The preparations and campaigns leading up to the elections have been largely thorough, transparent and peaceful, coming on the heels of the successful elections in Sierra Leone, which were also observed by ECOWAS.
The Region seeks through the Election Observation Missions to promote a culture of transparent and credible elections, consistent with best practices for the enhancement of good governance, regional peace and stability.