Wednesday 9th April , 2014 11:09 am
The Electoral Commission (EC) is to open the voters register in June this year to allow Ghanaians who turned 18 after the 2012 general elections and adults who could not register in previous registration exercises to register.
The commissioner responsible for the Upper West Region, Hajia Sa-Adatu Maida revealed this at a stakeholders consultative forum on public elections (C.I.75) held in Wa.
She said the exercise will offer Ghanaians who are eligible to vote to exercise their franchise in the upcoming District level elections and future ones in the country.
“We are opening the register for just two categories of people and we believe this will offer them the opportunity to take part in the voting process,” she said.
The commissioner also disclosed that this year’s District Level Elections will be conducted alongside national referenda on some entrenched provisions in the 1992 constitution.
Madam Maida decried voter apathy in previous District Level Elections which she said recorded below 40% turn out over the years saying, “many people out of ignorance do not want to take part in the D.L.Es .You can be sure that nothing will be changed in the upcoming referenda if turnout is low as witnessed in previous D.L.Es.”
She appealed to Ghanaians to turn out in their numbers in this year’s D.L.Es where 36,936 Assembly and Unit Committee candidates will be elected in 6,156 electoral areas across the country.
The Upper West regional director of the EC, Serebour Quaicoe identified political party interference as one of the major challenges facing the country.
He said: “Even though political parties are not allowed to support candidates for the D L Es, there are always complaints of political parties sponsoring candidates under the cover.”
This, if unchecked according to the regional director could affect decentralization in Ghana.
“We want to entrench good governance in our democratic dispensation but most people at the local level are losing interests in the D.L.Es because of what we know our politicians are doing,” he noted.
Meanwhile, some participants at the forum expressed grave concerns about the decision by government and the EC to tie the D L E’s to national referenda.
They argued that the two are very important national exercises and should be done on separate dates.
Naa Sennibeh Tuunebeh, a lecturer at the University for Development Studies indicated that “records available indicate low turnout in District Level elections and merging the referenda to the D.L.Es could be a recipe for not getting the at least 40% voters required by law to make changes in the constitution. These are two important national assignments. From the records, we never had up to a 40% turnout in the DLEs. So if want to make changes in the constitution, the exercise should not be tied to what we already know people have no interests in.”
By: Mahama Latif/citifmonline.com/Ghana