AN eight-member Western Regional Enforcement Body of the Political Parties Code of Conduct for the 2008 general election has been inaugurated in Sekondi to monitor breaches of the code at the various constituencies in the region and report such breaches to the body.
Some of the breaches are abuse of incumbency, defacing of posters, biased media reports, campaign violence and the use of provocative language, insults and personal attacks.
The National Enforcement Body (NEB) has the mandate to investigate such breaches where necessary and issue sanctions in the form of reprimand of offending parties.
The regional body which consists of representatives from the political parties, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) and the Regional Peace Council, has the Western Regional Director of the Electoral Commission, Mr Steve Opoku-Mensah as its chairman.
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony, a Senior Fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), Brigadier General Francis Agyemfra (retd), said the 2008 general election would be unique as regards competitiveness and that the possibility of such intense competition degenerating into violence could not be downplayed.
“Indeed, the roots of a thriving democracy are to be found in peace, stability, law and order as well as compliance by all stakeholders with well-defined electoral laws and codes”, he said.
In 2004, he said recognising that tolerance and pluralism were necessary for effective democracy, and determined to realise the objective of a model democracy and to consolidate democratic governance in the country, the Political Parties Code of Conduct 2004 was adopted and signed by all the registered political parties.
Brigadier General Agyemfra said the code was used as a guide to ensure free, fair and credible elections during the December 2004 general election.
“It was on the strength of this that the IEA, under the auspices of the Ghana Political Parties Programme (GPPP) organised a workshop to review the 2004 Code of Conduct to make it relevant to the demands of the 2008 general election”, he explained.
He said further that the 2008 Political Parties Code of Conduct departed from the 2004 Code in several ways and that, unlike the 2004 Code, the 2008 Code of Conduct established enforcement bodies both at the national and regional levels.
The senior fellow said the second unique feature of the 2008 Code was its attempt to ensure a level playing field for all political actors involved in the competition to capture political power.
In this regard, he said the code made explicit provisions against abuse of incumbency. He said the code had a prescribed reporting format to ensure that adequate information related to breaches of the code was captured in order that action would be taken to safeguard the peace of the country before, during and after the 2008 elections.
Brigadier General Agyemfra acknowledged the contribution of all the registered political parties in the country to the drafting of the 2008 Code of Conduct, saying: “We are of the conviction that political actors would respect and adhere to the provisions of the code in order to safeguard the relative peace and tranquillity of our dear country”.
The Western Regional Minister, Mr A. E. Amoah commended the IEA for its contribution to good governance of the country.
He noted that a government is formed by a political party, but the government is surrounded by people and institutions with different shades of opinions.
He therefore urged members of the Enforcement Body to discuss the code with the people to ensure peaceful elections.
The Western Regional Director of the Electoral Commission, Mr Steve Opoku-Mensah, noted that the political terrain in the country was becoming threatening.
He said it was important that the Code of Conduct had been issued to ensure free and fair elections and called on all the political parties to abide by the code.