Obasanjo Commends Ghana's Democratic Tradition

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Accra - Ghana — Nigeria's former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, head of the 250-member ECOWAS Observation Mission for Ghana's 7th December 2012 general elections, has lauded Ghana's National Peace Council for its contribution to the pre- election agreement signed by all political stakeholders in the country to play by the rule and ensure a peaceful electoral process.

"The Kumasi Declaration is not only unique, it is commendable and worthy of emulation," Chief Obasanjo said in Accra on Tuesday 4th December 2012, during a meeting with members of the Council as part of consultations with political stakeholders ahead of Friday's presidential and legislative polls. He said that organizations such as the National Peace Council were the building blocks needed to make the region and the continent "a haven of peaceful, transparent and credible elections and for strengthening of democracy." While expressing the hope that Ghana would live up to its reputation and tradition of upholding a democratic culture, the Head of the ECOWAS poll observation mission reminded Ghanaians that "the eye of the rest of the world is now on Ghana."

The chairman of the Peace Council, the Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante, briefed Chief Obasanjo and his joint delegation of ECOWAS and the AU on the composition, functions and objectives of the Council, which he said, only became a statutory body a year ago, after existing for much longer as a civil society organization. The Council is charged with facilitating and developing national mechanisms for conflict prevention, management, resolution and building of sustainable peace in the country.

At a separate meeting with the Chief Justice of Ghana, Justice Theodora Wood, Chief Obasanjo repeated his exhortation of Ghanaians to conduct themselves in a peaceful manner, so as to ensure free and fair, transparent and credible balloting on Friday.

The Chief Justice assured the ECOWAS mission that the Ghanaian judiciary has put in place appropriate mechanism to ensure speedy adjudication of any electoral dispute that might arise. The head of the ECOWAS election observation mission also met separately with two former Ghanaian Presidents John Kufour and J.J. Rawlings, whose rival political parties are fielding the two frontrunners in Friday's presidential race. Both Ghanaian leaders were in agreement that Chief Obasanjo's presence would calm the political atmosphere and ensure a peaceful electoral process in the country.

Chief Obasanjo later paid condolence visits to Mrs. Ernestina Attah-Mills and Hajia Ramatu Aliu Mahama, widows of the late Ghanaian President John Attah- Mills and the former Vice President to President John Kuffuor, the late Alhaji Aliu Mahama. He prayed God to grant the departed souls peaceful rest, and the strength and fortitude to their survivors to bear the irreparable losses. In Chief Obasanjo's delegation during Tuesday visits, were the ECOWAS Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Mrs. Salamatu Hussaini Suleiman, Director of Political Affairs, Dr. Abdel-Fatau-Musah and two African Union officials.

The ECOWAS poll observers, made up of representatives of various segments of the West African society, are to be deployed in the 10 administrative regions of Ghana to monitor the conduct of the polls. Accra will serve as their headquarters and Situation Room, with three sub-stations in Kumasi, Tamale and Bolgatanga.

Meanwhile, members of Ghana's security services who will be on duty on voting day began casting their ballots on Tuesday. Friday's polls will be the sixth uninterrupted general elections in Ghana with three peaceful alternations of power in the country since 1992. More than 13 million biometric-registered Ghanaian voters will elect a president out of eight presidential candidates and hundreds of contenders for the 275-seat Parliament.

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