2016 Parliamentary and Presidential Debates to come off despite Challenges- NCCE

The National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) says it will organize parliamentary debates in all 275 constituencies ahead of the December elections in Ghana despite a previous set back with the inaugural one at Weija/ Gbawe. The Commission added that current situations at the Electoral Commission has made it difficult to know the exact number of presidential candidates. However, regardless of this, there will be a Presidential Candidates debate before December 7, 2016.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of Penplusbytes and EIB Network’s 3-day training workshop on data journalism for elections reporting in Accra, the Director of Communications at the Commission, Mrs. Joyce Effutu explained that the debates are being organized in partnership with Civil Society Organisations working on Ghana’s elections.

“We are providing an opportunity for the candidates to tell electorates of their plans. Ours is to provide the platform, it is not by compulsion. We will not force anyone to come,” she clarified.

The Commission was however not definite on the dates when these debates would take place considering the general elections is 40 days away.

Also at the gathering, the Adabraka Police Commander, Supt. Kwesi Ofori reiterated the readiness of the National Elections Security Taskforce for this year’s elections. He advised media persons to be circumspect in their reportage especially as the days draw closer. He added that the Police Service remains non-partisan in all its activities and treats all parties equally.

“It will be very dangerous for us as an institution to skew towards a particular party. Sometimes we issue press releases to explain issues but other times, we ought to remain quiet and learn from our mistakes”, he said.

Penplusbytes in partnership with EIB Network with support from USA Embassy in Ghana is implementing the “Voter’s Count – amplifying voices through new digital platforms” project which seeks to keep citizens informed and engaged on political campaign issues to enable them make informed decisions at the polls while strengthening Ghana’s credentials as a beacon of democracy in the sub-region.

The training workshop, which is the second of its kind, formally started with a session on social media in elections facilitated by Professor Marquita Smith, a Fulbright scholar at the University of Ghana with 15 selected journalists from the southern belt of Ghana in attendance. They will be taken through practical courses on how they can tell data driven stories using data analysis, data cleaning, data organization, data visualization and infographics in the ensuing days.

Following a similar training in Kumasi for journalists from the northern belt earlier this month, Penplusbytes and EIB Network would have trained 30 core journalists who are competent in the use of data journalism for elections reporting.

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