Accra, GHANA— On December 3, 2020, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie S. Sullivan joined the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD) and Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) to open the National Information Center. Representatives from the Electoral Commission, Election Security Taskforce, and the National Peace Council as well as members of the diplomatic corps also attended the ceremony.
The National Information Center will be based in the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center for the duration of Ghana’s 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary elections. A joint activity between the U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), CDD, and CODEO, this temporary center will serve as CODEO’s operational base for the Parallel Vote Tabulation and the repository for reports from CODEO election observers deployed across the country during Ghana’s 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary elections. The Parallel Vote Tabulation will be an additional resource to help support the Electoral Commission to ensure a free, fair, and credible election.
During the opening ceremony, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie S. Sullivan commended Ghana’s leadership under the Fourth Republic for providing a strong example of democracy in the region and across the world. Ambassador Sullivan expressed confidence that Ghana’s election will be free, fair, and peaceful. She noted that for any election to be successful all concerned must foster an environment that respects the law and allows for the free and unfettered exercise of individuals’ right to vote. In her remarks, Ambassador Sullivan encouraged the media to engage in their craft safely and responsibly and noted the imperative for institutions of national security and law enforcement to protect a free and responsible media environment, which allows the communication of facts on which citizens can make informed decisions.
The U.S. government continues to work with the government of Ghana and civil society stakeholders to bolster accountable governance. In addition to USAID’s support of organizations like CDD, the U.S. Embassy will support an election observation mission composed of 33 teams. The observation teams, made up of members of the U.S. Embassy community, will travel across the country and observe the elections in 15 regions.
AS PREPARED Remarks by Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan
At the Opening of the Electoral Support Activity National Information Center
Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center
Thursday, December 3, 2020 | 10:00AM – 11:30AM
Representative, Electoral Commission of Ghana
Representative, Election Security Task Force
Representative, National Peace Council Members
Members of the Diplomatic Corps
Ladies and Gentlemen
All protocols observed
Good morning. I’m happy to participate in today’s opening of the National Information Center. I’m particularly pleased with the longstanding partnership the U.S. government enjoys with the Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD) and the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) that made the idea of this center a reality.
I remember CODEO from the 2000 elections, during my earlier posting in Ghana. CODEO’s outstanding work in election observation has been recognized over the years as one that demonstrates neutrality, impartiality, and integrity. That is why the U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), prioritized supporting CDD and CODEO in their efforts to establish the National Information Center for this year’s election. This center will serve as CODEO’s operational base for the Parallel Vote Tabulation, as well as a repository for reports from CODEO election observers who will deploy across the country. Indeed, CODEO’s Parallel Vote Tabulation will be an additional resource to help support the Electoral Commission to ensure a free and fair election.
As the country prepares for its eighth general election, I’d like to applaud Ghana’s leadership in providing a strong example of democracy not only in the region but also across the world. During the Fourth Republic, Ghana has made considerable strides in democratic governance by preserving the rule of law, safeguarding it with a free press, and promoting the delivery of essential services to all its citizens, irrespective of status, beliefs, or circumstance.
Democracy requires the active participation of citizens. Democracy suffers in complacency, and all democratic nations must remain vigilant, especially during election season. For the upcoming elections to be successful, all concerned must foster an environment that respects the law and allows for the free and unfettered exercise of individuals’ right to vote.
A serious threat to democracy anywhere in the world is the threat of electoral violence. Violence can only create an environment of fear and back the clock of progress. None of us wants to see that happen. Political ambition shouldn’t be allowed to tear down what has taken generations for Ghanaians to build.
As Ghana prepares for its upcoming elections, we also need to remember that COVID-19 is still all around us. We have a responsibility to keep ourselves, our families and friends safe from this disease. We can best do that by adhering strictly to the measures the Ministry of Health has put in place to stem the spread of the virus. A community’s health is an important pillar for development that we cannot take for granted. Let’s all remember physical distancing and the need to wear a mask and wash or disinfect our hands-on election day in order to stop the virus to promote a healthy and productive future for all Ghana’s citizens.
I’d like to end with a special message regarding the fourth estate of the realm – the media. A respected, protected, and accountable journalist corps is a key part of a transparent and fair electoral process. I encourage the media to engage in their craft safely and responsibly.
It is paramount to the success of any democracy for institutions of national security and law enforcement to protect a free and responsible media environment, which allows the communication of facts upon which citizens can make informed decisions. Open channels of communication, including uninterrupted connectivity for all members of society, is key to the accountability and transparency needed for the success of the electoral process.
In the next few days, the entire world will be watching to see how Ghana fares during this election. I’m confident that Ghana will once again make the region, the continent, and the whole world proud. I look forward to observing Ghanaians participate in another free, fair, peaceful, and credible election, a cornerstone of accountable governance.
After the electoral process is over, I also look forward to seeing Ghanaians of all political parties work together to make Ghana’s star shine even more brightly. Meanwhile, I wish Ghana and Ghanaians a successful and peaceful election.
Thank you for your kind attention.