Ghana: A Pre-Election Assessment Report, June 1, 1992

Publication Date: 
31 May 1992

Publication Type:




From April 22 through May 8, 1992, a team from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) composed of Laurie Cooper, Fred Hayward and Tony Lee traveled to Ghana to conduct a study of the Government of Ghana's electoral system. The team was present for the Ghanaian constitutional referendum on April 28. General comments about the registration and balloting procedure as well as recommendations are included in this report.


The transition to democratic civilian rule in Ghana is a process characterized by control. Flight Lieutenant Jerry Rawlings and the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) remain the obvious source of political initiatives, retaining their claim to the last word in decisions that affect the forward movement of Ghanaian policy. Members of the existing government as well as opposition parties compete for support with an understanding that the field is not completely level. Successful continuance of the transition will depend upon a better mutual understanding of the rules and a strong commitment democratic norms and values within an atmosphere of open and peaceful competition.


The prospects for free and fair elections in..Ghana at the end of this year are good. The procedures, infrastructure, flourishing civic associations as well as expertise in election administration currently existing place Ghana in a better position than its West African neighbors for this transition. With so many obstacles removed, there remains the largest obstacle of assuring Ghanaian citizens, political leaders and their opposition that the election process, starting with re-registration, will be open to full participation, inspection and comment. The transparency of the process is governed in large part by the independence of the Interim National Electoral Commission.  


This report presents an analysis of the Ghanaian political transition, its current election policies and procedures and the team's observations and recommendations as the country prepares for presidential and legislative elections at the end of 1992. The overarching concern of IFES is with the capability of the Interim National Electoral Commission (INEC) to preside over the electoral process that will withstand domestic and international challenges, regardless of the final results. This capability can only be developed if INEC is seen by all competing political interests as a neutral, independent body, one that can make and enforce potentially unpopular or disadvantageous decisions. In its difficult position as a PNDC-appointed mediator, INEC is the only institution that can ensure some degree of fairness as members of the PNDC and opposition prepare for direct political confrontation.


Support for the Commission in a revision of the electoral register is vital to the establishment of INEC as an independent body. The team's findings, especially on the day of the referendum, revealed that the inaccuracies in the register were numerous enough to create public suspicion of INEC. Unless specific action is taken immediately and visibly to correct the current register, Ghanaian citizens will assume that INEC does not have the authority that it should and that the PNDC is really managing the process in order to legitimize itself and justify its actions.


Chapter II, "Background to the Democratization Process," provides a frame for the Ghanaian electoral and political context. The system of elections in Ghana is not new; nevertheless it has not always been free from disruption. Chapter III, "Election Policies and Procedures," describes the mechanisms in place for the administration of the referendum and subsequent elections. Comments on each mechanism are followed by the team's recommendations. Chapter IV, "Civic and Voter Education, " examines the voter education and motivation efforts to date; Chapter V, "The Electoral Framework," illustrates the Ghanaian political picture with a look at the composition of the electorate; "Election Observers, " and "Elections in the Current Political Climate," Chapters VI and VII, view the prospects for free and .. fair elections in Ghana at the end of 1992. The "Recommendations" and "Conclusion" chapters review the IFES team's recommendations with financial notes, describe areas for United States support of the registration procedures and identify other issues that INEC will need to address as it prepares for its next elections.  

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