Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan
Political parties and think-tanks have pressed the alarm button over Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan’s planned limited registration exercise across the country, even before a Supreme Court demand that reforms be introduced into the electoral system.
The parties believe that the move is laden with diabolic intention, especially when Dr. Afari-Gyan is yet to comply with the court order to carry out the reforms.
The exercise is scheduled to take place between June 20 and 29, 2014 at a time the World Cup fever would have gripped most Ghanaians.
The Electoral Commission (EC) of which he is chairman, is preparing to open the electoral register to capture Ghanaians, who have turned 18 and others who were perhaps not in town when the last exercise was undertaken.
The Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meetings, which enable the EC to discuss issues of importance regarding elections with political parties, have not been held for a long time.
The EC Chairman has been accused by the parties of not being too keen about meeting with them and therefore takes decisions on their blind side.
During the election petition hearing, the shortcomings of the EC were unearthed during the extended stay of Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan in the dock.
He was constrained to make significant admissions which informed the call by the Supreme Court for reforms.
Supreme Court Demand
Given the myriad shortcomings which were detected in the register during the landmark election petition hearing last year, the Supreme Court demanded an overhaul of the electoral system, something which should have preceded any revision of the list – a premise underpinning the disagreement of the parties.
The Danquah Institute (DI), one of the foremost political think-tanks, whose input led to a number of innovations in local politics, including the televising of the election petition hearing and introduction of biometric voter register, has joined separate groups in kicking against Dr. Afari-Gyan’s move, which all of them consider as putting the cart before the horse.
A number of press conferences and statements – not forgetting countless radio discussions on the subject – have taken place within the last few days.
At its press conference at the International Press Centre yesterday, the DI demanded for a complete audit of the voter register ‘before any further registration of new voters is done.’
Boakye Agyarko, a fellow of the Institute, explained that ‘the EC, in the aftermath of the presidential election petition, needs to repair its credibility as it was shown in court that it was not on top of issues regarding elections in the country.’
He said, ‘All is not well with Ghana’s register, and the petitioners in the case proved this point beyond all reasonable doubt.’
He explained that it was proven beyond all reasonable doubt in court that there were multiple registrations contained in the biometric voter register, the actual total registered number of voters in the country is still in doubt and also the fact that different voter registers were apparently used for the Presidential and Parliamentary elections.
Continuing, Mr. Agyarko said, ‘It is recalled that the total number of registered voters that the EC furnished the NPP with was 14,031,680. Subsequently, on Sunday, 9 th December, 2012, the EC declared the total number of registered voters as 14,158,890. Furthermore, on the same date, the EC posted on its website the total number of registered voters as 14,031,793. The Chairman of the EC, during the trial, could not provide cogent reasons for this discrepancy’.
Mr. Agyarko stated, ‘Although a common register was compiled for both the presidential and the parliamentary elections, it turned out, from the results declared by the EC, that the total number of registered voters in respect of the presidential election exceeded that of the registered voters for the parliamentary elections by 127,210 voters.’
It was also proven in court, he maintained, ‘that some of the voter ID numbers supposedly belonging to some of the foreign registered voters could not be found on the general voters’ register, that is to say they were fake identities.’
‘These were admitted to by the Chairman of the EC in court, but till date, we have no idea as to what the exact number of registered voters in Ghana is. And yet still, the EC wants to go ahead and conduct additional registration, without cleaning the voters’ register? This, certainly, does not bode well for future elections in our dear nation.’
Boakye Agyarko also quoted from statements made by Dr. Afari-Gyan in the run-up to the 2008 elections, about the statistical acceptability of voter registers across the world.
Dr. Afari-Gyan, in an interview with Joy FM in 2008 said, ‘If our population is indeed 22 million, then perhaps 13 million people on our register would be statistically unacceptable by world standards. If that is the case, then it may mean that there is something wrong with our register.’
Mr. Agyarko explained that as per Dr. Afari-Gyan’s assertions in 2008, a voter register containing 12,472,758 out of a population of 22 million persons – which represents a percentage of 56.69% – was statistically unacceptable, then a 56.20% voter population in 2012 is clearly statistically unacceptable.
‘Nigeria, which has a population of 162,470,737, has a voter population of 67,764,327, representing 41.7%. Kenya, with a population of 41,609,728 has a voter population of 14,362,189, representing 34.50%. Tanzania, with 42.50% and Senegal with 41.50% of registered voters to their total populations, are all significantly lower than Ghana’s. South Africa, who recently had its elections, boast of a voter population of 25,390,159 out of a population of some 53 million people, representing 47.9% of the total population.
‘Why is Ghana’s percentage so high? One does not need rocket science to tell us that there is something fundamentally wrong with our voters’ register,’ he stressed.
PNC Youth Wing
The Youth Wing of the People’s National Convention (PNC) is also asking the EC to suspend the planned new voter registration exercise.
A press statement signed by the National Youth Organizer of the PNC, Abu Ramadan, said the ‘youth wing demands a suspension of the voter registration exercise pending an audit of the 2012 voter register.’
The group is also asking for an immediate Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting with the EC.
The party said it would go to court to secure an injunction against the exercise if their demands were not met.
‘We are giving the EC a two-week ultimatum to respond to our demands as major stakeholders in the process. Failure to heed we will resort to all legal means at our disposal. We will not sit and allow the Electoral Commission to plunge this nation into chaos,’ it warned.
‘The EC should abrogate the contract with STL and re-open tender to allow stakeholders to be part of the selection process in the interest of Ghana,’ it further asked.
‘Is it not intriguing that the Electoral Commission, regardless of the huge electoral mishap and the novelty of a Supreme Court case, has decided in their wisdom to throw caution to the wind by coming up with a registration announcement?’ the party quizzed.
They observed that ‘if the Supreme Court and His Lordship Justice Dotse’s recommended reforms in his ruling is to be taken into account, then there is an obvious billowing smoke of catastrophe in our line-up to the general elections.’
Why NHIS Cards?
The party wondered why the NHIS card should be a basis for the provision of a voter ID card since the health insurance card is given to all, regardless of nationality.
PNC demanded a comprehensive detail of the STL contract with the EC, adding that this be made public.
The PNC faulted the manner in which the STL was awarded the EC contract, regarding the process as ‘Nicodemus.’
Coalition For Free Elections
The Coalition For Free, Fair and Transparent Elections (COFFTRE) asked the EC to tell Ghanaians how it intends to deal with what it termed anomalies in the 2012 Voter Register before the commencement of the limited registration exercise.
This was contained in a statement the group issued yesterday, which was signed by its National Convener, Kenneth Agyei Kuranchie and the National Coordinator Joseph Otoo.
By AR Gomda
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