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Top Elections NGO Honors Pioneer of Electoral Democracy in Africa


IFES presents Baxter Award to Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan from Ghana

WASHINGTON — October 26, 2010 — Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, chairman of Ghana’s Electoral Commission, is the recipient of the 2010 Joe C. Baxter Award. The award is presented annually by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) to professionals whose work epitomizes the mission of IFES—to promote citizen participation, transparency, and accountability in political life and civil society.

“Dr. Afari-Gyan has made remarkable contributions to electoral democracy in Ghana, Africa, and throughout the world. He is a shining example of how much one individual can contribute to the advancement of a human right,” says Bill Sweeney, IFES president and CEO.

The Honorable Johnnie Carson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, will present the award to Dr. Afari-Gyan on November 1, 2010 in Washington, D.C. The reception will be part of IFES’ 2010 U.S. Elections Program, which brings together electoral officials from around the world to observe the U.S. elections and exchange ideas on electoral matters.

Dr. Afari-Gyan began helping build Ghana’s democracy in 1991 when he served on the committee to draft Ghana’s present Constitution. In 1992, he became the Deputy Chairman of Ghana’s electoral commission. In 1993, he became the commission’s Chairman. In this role, he gained the confidence of the public and all major political contestants by establishing and maintaining a record of impartiality and transparency.

The Chairman’s work has not been limited to Ghana. He has also provided his expertise to most electoral commissions in Africa and many around the world, including Cambodia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

In 1998, Dr. Afari-Gyan was the chairman of the drafting committee of the charter for the African Association of Election Authorities (AAEA). He was its first executive secretary, a position he still holds. The AAEA is a regional network of Election Management Bodies dedicated to the professionalization of election administration. Through his work with AAEA, he has fostered the trust and respect of his colleagues and governments throughout Africa.

Before becoming involved in elections work, Dr. Afari-Gyan taught at universities in the United States, Ghana and Nigeria.  He has authored several publications on political, constitutional and electoral issues. Dr. Afari-Gyan obtained a Ph.D from the University of California, Santa Barbara , and a M.A. and B.A. at the University of Ghana, Legon.

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The International Foundation for Electoral Systems is an independent, non ‐ governmental organization providing professional support to electoral democracy. Through field work, applied research and advocacy, we strive to promote citizen participation, transparency, and accountability in political life and civil society.