West Africa Women's Delegation to Observe Elections

An eight-member group of the West Africa Women's Election Observation (WAWEO), led by Nobel Laureate Leyman Gbowee of Liberia, has arrived in the country to observe the 2012 general elections.

The team, consists of eminent women who are experts in governance, and also women advocates from the West African region, including Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Senegal, Nigeria and Cote d' Ivoire.

According to Leyman Gbowee: "We are here in our individual capacities; we do not represent the countries from which we come, or professional or national organisations to which we may belong; we are here on behalf of WAWEO. We have no executive role."

Addressing members of the media in Accra yesterday, she said the team was constituted by the West African Civil Society Institute (WACSI) and the Women in Peace and Security Network - Africa (WIPSEN-AFRICA).

The task of the team, as she outlined, includes observing the relevant aspects of the organisation and conduct of the general elections, saying, "We will consider the various aspects impinging on the credibility as a whole."

Also, they would observe the gender aspects of the organisation and conduct of the elections in accordance with the laws of Ghana, as well as relevant regional and other international commitments.

Furthermore, the team would make an impartial and independent assessment of the entire elections, and, "at the end reach a conclusion as to whether conditions existed for the women of Ghana to freely express their will through the polls."

Ms. Gbowee said they would be impartial and objective in their duties, constructive in their observation and remarks, with the view to help further strengthen women's participation in the democratic process. This would be done vis-à-vis the freedom to partake in the election process, and to vote without fear and threat to security.

She said their aim was to gain a broad overview of the entire electoral process, so they would travel and consult widely to observe the process at first hand.

To achieve a representative sample, the team would be put in groups of two, and be deployed to Tamale in the Northern Region, Ho in the Volta Region, Kumasi in the Ashanti Region, and Accra in the Greater Accra Region.

She noted that based on the reports of their observations, they would draft a full report and submit it to the executive directors of WACSI and WIPSEN-AFRICA, who would forward it to the Government of Ghana, and Chairman of the Electoral Commission.

The leadership of political parties, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) governments, and all women's groups in the West Africa region would also be given copies.

She concluded: "We wish the people of Ghana well, and encourage women to participate in the democratic process and choose freely who will govern them. We hope all involved will ensure that the elections are peaceful for violence damages society and disfigures the electoral process."

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