The National Democratic Institute (NDI) today released its preliminary statement of findings and recommendations from its international election observation mission to Ghana's presidential and parliamentary elections of December 7, 2016.

“The NDI delegation applauds the people of Ghana for the largely peaceful conduct of these elections, despite earlier apprehensions of political tensions and violence,” said Ambassador Johnnie Carson, co-leader of NDI’s observation mission. “Ghana has underscored its status as a beacon for democracy in the region and, though not without challenges, remains a laudable example for the entire continent.”

The delegation stresses that official election results are not yet complete, and its statement therefore is preliminary in nature. The delegation calls on Ghanaian political parties and candidates to cooperate in good faith with the Electoral Commission and for the results to be expeditiously released. Ultimately it is the people of Ghana who will determine the credibility of the elections, and political leaders should respect the people’s will expressed in the December 7 polls.

The preliminary statement commends the Electoral Commission for its notable improvements since the 2012 polls, and it expresses appreciation for the efforts of other election stakeholders, exemplified by the Accra Declaration for peaceful polls, signed on December 1 by all presidential candidates.

The preliminary statement highlights aspects of voter participation, election administration, and security. NDI’s delegation notes that, overall, voting was peaceful, orderly and well-organized as executed by trained polling officials. Most voters were well-informed about the process and turned out in large numbers.

The delegation’s preliminary statement provides recommendations to the government of Ghana, the Electoral Commission, political parties and candidates, civil society and the media, and security forces. The recommendations focus on promoting peace, expanding communications, and increasing women’s participation. These include:

  • political leaders calling publicly on their supporters to respond peacefully to the EC’s announcement of election results and to seek redress through legal avenues should there be reason for electoral complaints or disputes;

  • mitigating political polarization and rancorous conflict between parties by creating mechanisms for ongoing dialogue across party lines both in and outside of the normal legislative context;

  • organizing a thorough post-election review of the conduct of the 2016 elections and adopting appropriate recommendations to attain and consolidate best practices;

  • initiating electoral reform early in the next legislature;

  • actively facilitating women’s participation by creating an enabling environment for meaningful political leadership opportunities for women; and

  • disbanding vigilante groups and calling on youth to engage peacefully in political processes.

The NDI Ghana observer delegation comprised 30 political and civic leaders, elections experts, and regional specialists from 14 countries. Delegation leadership was as follows: Amb. Johnnie Carson, former assistant secretary for African Affairs, U.S. State Department, and member of the board of directors of NDI; Hon. J. Yvonne Mokgoro, former justice, South African Constitutional Court; Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, senior associate and regional director for Africa, NDI; and Dr. Pat Merloe, senior associate and director of elections, NDI.

NDI’s election observation for the December 7 elections included two pre-election assessment missions in August and October 2016, the statements of which can be found at . The delegation conducted its activities in accordance with Ghanaian law and the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation, and collaborated with other international observer missions that endorse the Declaration.

NDI’s international election observation mission in Ghana is funded by a grant from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor of the U.S. Department of State. The Institute’s pre-election missions were funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).