Ghana General Elections: 7 December 2016

Alex Vines, Thabo Mbeki, Lesley Clark, Musa Mwenye, Akin Fayomi, Eric Kwa, Joy Ogwu, Joan Purcell, Margaret Wilson , Peter Wardle, Notemba Tjipueja, Josephine Tamai, Adele Roopchand, Samuel Azu'u Fonkem, Masjaliza Hamzah, Pandu Skelemani

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned reportpeer-review


The Commonwealth Observer Group for the 7 December 2016 General Elections
was present in Ghana from 29 November to 13 December 2016. The Group’s
arrival was preceded by an Advance Observer Team which was in the country
from 16 November 2016.

In carrying out its Terms of Reference, the Group met, among others, with the
Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana, the presidential candidates, political
parties, civil society, including women and youth groups, the media, the Police,
Commonwealth High Commissioners, as well as other citizen and international
observer missions.

On 4 December 2016 our teams were deployed throughout the ten regions of
Ghana to observe the election environment and preparation of the polls, and
met key stakeholders at the regional, district and constituency levels.

The campaign was highly competitive and closely contested, and was conducted
in a largely peaceful and vibrant manner, with fundamental rights of
candidates, political parties and supporters largely respected.

The media, on the whole, played a prominent and positive role in the campaign,
with freedoms of speech and expression respected. Our Group also noted the
growing influence of social media on the electorate and the campaign.
However, we also observed cases of the use of inflammatory language, and
biased reporting.

The legal framework provides an adequate basis for the conduct of democratic
elections in Ghana, with guarantees for fundamental freedoms of the right to
vote, to be elected, freedom of assembly, association, expression and

The Electoral Commission was, on the whole, well prepared for the elections,
and administered the electoral process efficiently and professionally. The polls
largely opened on time with election materials available and polling staff,
security and party agents present. Pregnant women, the elderly and persons
with disability were generally given priority. The poll set up, voting, and the
count, collation and results process, for the most part, followed the prescribed
procedures. The vast majority of voters found their names on the voters’ lists
and were able to vote. Few incidents were reported that had a significant
impact on the voting process.

Well-conducted elections can be further improved. Our report encourages
undertaking a post-election review of all aspects of the electoral framework
and administration both internally and with stakeholders, with a view to
adopting recommendations and best practice, in particular with regard to the
following aspects: the legal framework, voter register, women’s political
participation, administrative and logistical arrangements for the elections,
signage for polling stations, vote collation, tabulation and transmission systems,
special voting provisions, and communications between the Electoral
Commission and other stakeholders.

The reports from citizen and international observers could be used to inform this post-election review. In the context of our Terms of Reference, our Report offers, in a positive spirit, a number of recommendations for consideration to further improve the electoral process in Ghana. Our overall conclusion is that the Ghana General Election as a whole was conducted in a peaceful, credible, transparent and
inclusive manner. The Group commends and congratulates the Ghanaian
voters, the Electoral Commission of Ghana and polling staff, civil society, the
citizen observers, the media and the security forces for their respective roles in ensuring the success of the elections.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherCommonwealth Secretariat
Number of pages73
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2016


  • Ghana
  • elections
  • commonwealth


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