Punish EC Officials – Stakeholders Demand

Some political parties and civil society groups have called for stiffer punishment for electoral officials whose misconduct undermine the integrity of Ghana’s electoral process.

They have also called for a wide range of administrative and legal reforms, including placing a limit on the number of constituencies and the creation of new constituencies in an election year.

Director of Public Affairs at the Electoral Commission (EC), Christian Owusu Parry told The Finder in an exclusive interview that the proposals were contained in proposals received from political parties, individuals and civil society groups.

In line with recommendation contained in the Supreme Court judgement on the election petition last year, the EC in September 2013 requested for proposals for reforms to the country’s electoral system.

Mr Owusu-Parry mentioned other recommendations as Members of Parliament (MPs) to preside over more than one district, implementation of E-voting, expeditious disposal of election petitions, as well as the establishment of a national collation centre.

He explained that the National Democratic Congress (NDC), New Patriotic Party (NPP), People’s National Convention (PNC), Convention People’s Party (CPP), Progressive People’s Party (PPP), Great Consolidated People’s Party (GCPP), United Front Party (UFP) and Independent People’s Party (IPP) presented one proposal co-ordinated by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) under the Ghana Political Parties Programme.

The Yes Party and GCPP also presented individual proposals while the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) under the Civil Society and Development Partners’ programme presented a proposal which was the outcome of a series of interactions and interviews with people.

He noted that the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) also presented a proposal and two individuals, Dufetorga Attayebi of Vakpo Traditional Area and Gabriel Dei, also presented proposals.

Most of the stakeholders presented the proposals before the deadline of November 2013.

Mr Owusu-Parry stated that the commission was studying the proposals and the feasible administrative proposals would be implemented.

He noted that the EC would meet with stakeholders on the legal reforms and arrive at common ground before implementation, saying reforms are critical measures and take time; therefore the EC would not rush to take decisions.

In its judgement on the election petition on August 29, 2013, the Supreme Court made a number of recommendations with regard to electoral reforms.

Among the recommendations was the need for the voters’ register to be compiled and made available to the political parties as early as possible, while a supplementary register might cater for late exigencies.

It called for the calibre of presiding officers to be improved.

The court observed that the pink sheet (statement of poll and declaration of results for the Office of President and Member of Parliament) was too elaborate, and therefore there would be the need for a much simpler one to, among others, meet the pressures of the public, weariness and lateness of the day at the close of a poll.

Furthermore, the carbon-copying system had to be improved while the Biometric Device System must be streamlined to avoid breakdowns and the stress on the electorate that came with an adjournment of the poll.

Again, it said the method of recruitment, training and general orientation of the staff, be they temporary or permanent, engaged in performing critical core functions on election day had to be revised.

Those persons engaged as agents to observe the elections at the polling stations should not only be loyal and dedicated party persons, but persons who are competent enough to understand the implications of the recordings on the pink sheets and the sequential nature of the said recordings.