Dr. Afari Gyan
The Electoral Commission (EC) has come under intense pressure to implement key reforms suggested by political parties in Ghana to make elections more credible in future.
This became apparent during a forum organized by the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) on Tuesday when representatives of all the political parties in the country met at the Golden Tulip Hotel at a stakeholder’s workshop on electoral reforms in Ghana.
The EC is said to have shelved all the suggestions for reforms made by political parties even though immediately after the verdict by the Supreme Court last year, the EC called on political parties to submit proposals for reforms of the electoral process.
The EC has been silent on the collective suggestions made by the political parties for reforms, Mathew Opoku Prempeh, New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Manhyia, who is also known as Napo, indicated.
‘The whole Ghana cannot be calling for reforms and the EC would be silent. Since the IEA and the political parties submitted their proposals to the EC, the EC has been silent,’ Napo charged.
The Supreme Court of Ghana recommended some electoral reforms after ruling on the election petition brought before it by the flagbearer of the opposition NPP, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo challenging the election of President John Dramani Mahama.
Among some of the proposals from the political parties captured in various forums organised by the IEA includes the EC working with defined programmes and published timelines to ensure certainty.
The parties also want provisions such as the ‘no verification, no vote’ policy contained in latest constitutional instrument guiding elections to be maintained.
‘This means that there must be authentication of finger prints before eligible voters are allowed to vote,’ stated Dr. Ransford Gyampo, who elaborated the various reforms that the political parties were proposing.
Electoral reforms became imperative after the results of the December 2012 Presidential elections were challenged by the presidential candidate of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and two others.
Even though the Supreme Court did not overturn the verdict of the EC, it became apparent that the electoral process in Ghana was flawed, prompting the EC to call for suggestions on reforms by political parties and stakeholders.
A former Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Prof Mike Oquaye raised concerns about the appointment of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission and the tendency to make the chairman autocratic.
In a paper delivered on his behalf by the former chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Peter Mac Manu at the forum organized by the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA), Prof Oquaye said the system whereby the appointment of the EC chairman is the sole responsibility of the President of the Republic is ‘dangerous.’
Prof Mike Oquaye cited the Sudanese example where the president appoints EC Chairman subject to two-thirds majority approval of all members of parliament.’
‘Accountability mechanism must be established to regulate the EC’s administrative machinery; the number of errors, acts of omissions which the EC chairman himself admitted in court as administrative lapses cannot be ignored,’ he said.
By Raphael Ofori-Adeniran
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