Afari-Gyan Storms Parliament

This came out when the Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, stormed the House yesterday.

The Constitutional Instruments (CIs) emanating from the EC were approved by Parliament before the 2012 general elections, but serious questions on the law have come up after the elections ended up in a dispute with the Supreme Court eventually deciding the winner of the presidential poll.

Parliament, sensing danger after the Supreme Court ruling on the election petition, invited the Dr. Afari-Gyan and his two deputies to come and brief Members on measures being taken by the Commission to deepen public confidence in its work.

The meeting, which was under the aegis of the Committee of the Whole, was held behind closed doors and lasted for about two hours.

Sources close to the meeting told DAILY GUIDE that most of the Minority Members were not happy about the interpretation of Section 30 (2) of CI 75 by the Chairman of the Commission.

Section 30 (2) states that ‘A voter shall go through biometric verification before being allowed to vote’ but the Afari-Gyan, who is on record to have told officials of political parties before the 2012 general elections that ‘no verification no vote,’ was said to have told the MPs that a voter does not have to be necessarily verified biometrically before being allowed to vote.

A Member of the Minority did not understand why in some regions the law to let voters go through biometric verification was strictly applied while in other regions too it was relaxed for the electorate.

Afari-Gyan said verification is a process and once a voter had provided a voter ID card and has his or her name in the voters’ register, he or she could be allowed to vote.

‘This CI 75 will have to be looked at again because it could be a recipe for chaos in the next general elections,’ an MP, who pleaded anonymity, told the DAILY GUIDE , stressing that ‘if the proposition made by the Chairman of the EC could be a way out, then an amendment would have to be made to say that apart from a voter going through a biometric verification to be able to vote, a person could also vote if five or more people at the polling station could identify him or her as someone living in the area after he or she had produced the voters’ ID card.’

Some MPs were also not happy with aspects of the CI 72 which allows prospective voters to use National Health Insurance Scheme cards as an ID to qualify the person to register and vote, saying that that form of identity could be abused by non-Ghanaians who have stayed in Ghana and could qualify for the NHIS card because they contribute to the scheme.

‘We have to look at all these laws again for confidence to be deepened in the electoral process,’ a concerned MP told the DAILY GUIDE.

Dr. Afari-Gyan also told the MPs that civil society organisations, individuals and groups had presented various suggestions for electoral reforms and very soon those suggestions would be compiled and made available to Members of Parliament for consideration.

On the district level elections, the EC Chairman said the term of the current crop of assembly members would expire in March next year and that the elections would be conducted by the end of April next year.

He did not agree to suggestions that the voters’ register was over- bloated.

He however, agreed that there were a few double names because of people who decided to register twice and some other few anomalies which had to be cleaned from the register.

The Minister of Finance was supposed to have appeared before the House to answer some pertinent questions but could not make it because he was said to have travelled outside the country. He is supposed to make himself available today for grilling.

By Thomas Fosu Jnr

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