The ECOWAS Observer Mission that monitored Ghana’s presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday has described the polls as ”free, peaceful, transparent and credible”.
In a preliminary assessment made Monday, the 200-member mission, led by former Nigerian Head of State Yakubu Gowon, said the vast majority of voters had ample opportunity to exercise their franchise in a transparent, tranquil and orderly manner.
The mission said the Electoral Commission (EC) has so far discharged its duties with commendable competence, fairness and firmness, and has so far lived up to its motto of ‘Transparency, Fairness and Integrity’.
”As is the case with all contests, the ECOWAS Mission is not under any illusion to discount the possibility of disputes and legal challenges with regard to the outcome of the polls. In such eventuality, however, the Mission urges all aggrieved parties to employ exclusively peaceful and constitutional means to seek redress.
”To this end, ECOWAS will closely observe the concluding phases of the process, particularly the collation and declaration of results of the December 7, 2008 elections, as well as the handling of disputes emanating thereof by all concerned, and would make further declarations, should the need arise,” it said.
The mission ”regrets the closure of the country’s borders from 10 am local time on December 6, 2008 without prior warning to the public, thus restricting human and vehicular movement across the country’s common borders with neighboring States”.
It salutes the Ghanaian electorate for the patience, courage, tolerance and determination that they have exhibited in the course of the elections, and ”cautions all political leaders to desist from making premature pronouncements on the outcome of the elections until the results have been officially announced by the EC”.
The mission is composed of delegations from ECOWAS member states, representatives of the ECOWAS Parliament and ECOWAS Ambassadors accredited to Nigeria.
Others are members of the ECOWAS Council of the Wise and experts drawn from electoral management bodies and civil society across the ECOWAS region.
Coordinated by a technical team from the ECOWAS Commission, members of the mission began arriving in Ghana from 28 November, 2008.
The EC has yet to announce the results of the elections, the fifth consecutive polls since Ghana’s return to constitutional rule.