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Seidu Alidu: Monetization of Politics Threatens Ghana’s Election Security

University of Ghana Expert Highlights Threats of Foreign Influence in Elections

by Adenike Adeodun

Prof. Seidu Alidu, Head of the Political Science Department at the University of Ghana, has expressed concern over the potential for foreign agencies and organisations to interfere in Ghana’s electoral process, a consequence of the increasing monetization of politics in the country. Speaking at a training workshop in Accra on managing the risks of election interference in Ghana’s 2024 elections, Prof. Alidu emphasised the dangers of external influences on elections.

“Foreign influence in an election can significantly skew the outcome, moving it away from the people’s choice and handing control to a select group of elites or countries that interfered,” Prof. Alidu stated. He highlighted that such interference undermines democratic consolidation and progression, potentially reversing the gains made in the country’s democratic journey.

According to a report by the Daily Graphic, Prof. Alidu pointed out that external influences could erode legitimacy and public confidence in the electoral process. He stressed the importance of safeguarding Ghana’s democracy against foreign influence due to the country’s success story in democratic governance.

He identified factors that could expose Ghana to election interference, including heavily financed political contests, a politicised media landscape, economic crises, and divisive issues like LGBT+ rights. Prof. Alidu referenced instances of election interference in African countries like Kenya, Nigeria, Madagascar, and others, as well as developed countries like the USA, France, and Canada.

To mitigate these risks, Prof. Alidu advocated for enhanced cybersecurity preparedness, a transition from manual to electronic vote tabulation, increased transparency in elections, and the establishment of fact-checking mechanisms to counter disinformation.

Dr Joyce Manyo, a Research Fellow of the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), outlined tools of election influence, including foreign campaign financing, fake news, social media manipulation, and hacking.

Kwesi Jonah, a Senior Research Fellow at IDEG, identified major threats to democracy in Africa, including authoritarian leaders reversing constitutional term limits, coups in various countries, and the risk of external election interference.

The workshop, organised by IDEG, aimed to equip stakeholders with the knowledge and skills to identify and prevent election interference risks in Ghana. Attendees included security personnel, journalists, and representatives of civil society organisations.

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