Wednesday, 03 June

Listen to opposing views – EC told

Jean Mensa

A group calling itself Crossfire Ghana has asked the Chair of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Jean Mensa, to consider all dissenting views expressed by political parties on some of its plans ahead of this year’s elections.

This, according to Nana Osei Tutu, Convener of the research group, will deal with the mistrust between the EC and some of the parties, especially regarding the compilation of a new register of voters.

A statement released by the group, said: “Our position is that before the elections, trust should be built between all stakeholders to set the rules of the competition, meaning the legal framework, which ensures the integrity of the electoral process. The action to be taken at this stage must include consensual establishment a body trusted by all stakeholders to monitor and supervise proceedings.

“Our concern is the lack of consistency being displayed by the electoral commission and some stakeholders. The independence of the electoral commission is firmly established in the 1992 constitution and it is our wish that the body is allowed to operate as an autonomous body to ensure the public's trust in the commission and its decision. That notwithstanding, it behoves all well-meaning Ghanaians and organizations to monitor activities of the commission and point out detected lapses constructively. The election is the bedrock of our democracy hence the seriousness all discerning minds attach to its organisation and conduct. Our democracy will suffer serious bruises if we allow the confidence and faith people have in the electoral process to erode. The responsibility to maintain the commission's integrity and that of the process rests on our shoulders.

“We are, by this release, appealing to the Electoral Commission to take a second look at the National ID card issue raised by the opposition parties. The Economic Commission for West African states protocol on Democracy and Good Governance in Article 5 states:

"The voters' list shall be prepared in a transparent manner and, with the collaboration of the political parties and voters who may have access to them whenever the need arises."

“We hold the position that, removing the existing voters' ID card as one of the identification documents for registration and replacing it with the National ID, passport etc., is not a good decision especially when the EC had earlier assured the parties it was not going to use the National ID as one of the identification documents.

“Lack of consistency and trust in electoral matters can trigger unnecessary tension and problems. Per the information furnished the public by the opposition NDC, which has not been contested by the NIA, a chunk of Ghanaians has not been registered. Per the figures released, it is also true that a chunk of the 18+ unregistered is within the strongholds of the opposition NDC (based on previous election results). This issue cannot be ignored at all.

“This is unfortunate and represents yet another challenge to our democracy. If people and stakeholders lose faith in the institutions of libertarian and liberal democracy, the credibility of the consent obtained through electoral verdicts itself will be in doubt and that is not good for our democracy. We will advise that the use of the NIA card for this election be cancelled to ensure fairness. We can use the NIA card in our subsequent elections by which time the Authority had adequately covered all the regions and registered more eligible voters. Per the current record and arrangement, the EC will end up registering fewer people compared to the previous number which sharply contradicts our voter registration law.”