5 December 2012

Ghana: 1,429,682 Expected to Vote in E/R

A total of 1,429,682 registered voters are expected to participate in the Friday December 7 presidential and parliamentary elections in 33 constituencies in the Eastern Region.

About 14,805 trained Electoral Commission (EC) officials would have oversight responsibility in 2,961 polling stations in the 33 constituencies, with a total of 152 parliamentary candidates.

Out of 17 independent candidates and 12 female aspirants, the rest are male aspirants, with the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and leading opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) having a representative in all the 33 constituencies.

This was made known by the first Deputy Eastern Regional Director of the EC, Mr. Eric Mensah Bonsu, at a day's media encounter here in Koforidua on Monday.

The programme, which was sponsored by USAID and facilitated by Kas Consult, was aimed at educating and refreshing media practitioners on their roles and responsibilities in the run-up to the elections.

Addressing the media, Mr. Mensah Bonsu reiterated that in order for the country to maintain her accolade as the beacon of democracy, there was the need for all stakeholders to put their shoulders to the wheel.

To him, despite the fact that the role of every stakeholder in the electoral process was important, the role of the media could not be over-emphasised, since the general public expected a lot from them.

According to him, the role of the media in promoting democratic governance was crucial, just as free and fair elections was vital, hence the media had a duty to educate the electorate to vote on issues, and not personalities or political affiliation.

"The media must encourage the electorates to report those who may attempt to influence them with money or gifts to vote for them to the security agencies, in order to deal with them, since they amount to corruption," he added.

He continued that although freedom of the press had been enshrined in the constitution, journalists should not take advantage of such freedom to write whatever they like, such as maligning people and promoting ethnicity at such a crucial electioneering period.

He prayed that media practitioners in the country would not use divisive methods to cause election violence, as has been perpetuated by some journalists in the sub-region.

The first Deputy Eastern Regional Director of the EC further urged the media to be fair, objective and balanced in the discharge of their duties, particularly this election period.

"Journalists must not lose sight of the fact that a little slip could lead to a disastrous consequences. They should, therefore, be guided by the ethics of their profession, and work within the framework of the provision in the GJA code of ethics," Mr. Bonsu entreated.

On her part, the Second Deputy Regional Director, Mrs. Faith Madzike, urged the various political party agents who would be sent to the polling stations to be vigilant.

According to her, the agents should not only concentrate on the biometric machines and register, but also the ballot papers, to ensure that the necessary procedures were adhere to.

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