General News of Monday, 16 February 2015
Source: The Finder
Ghana faces a major test as the country is searching for an individual to replace current Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan.
Dr Afari-Gyan was born on June 18, 1945 and turns 70 in June this year, the retirement age for Commissioner of EC.
The conduct of elections is the single most important threat to national peace and life.
All Ghanaians are looking for a person of integrity and one who will not pander to political pressure from any quarters whatsoever.
A new EC Chairman is crucial because it marks the beginning of Election 2016.
Dr Afari-Gyan will supervise his last elections on March 3 as the country votes to elect assembly members and unit committee members.
The country is sharply divided on political lines and, therefore, finding an individual that will be acceptable to all political parties is a daunting task.
Following the flaws in the electoral system as pointed out during the election petition hearing after the 2012 elections, proposing the current deputy chairman of the commission Mr Amadu Sulley or any other serving commissioner will be a nonstarter.
It is obvious that their appointment would face stiff resistance from the opposition as the same people were in charge in 2012.
Heads of political think-tanks such as Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), and Professor Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, Executive Director of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), who have in-depth understanding of elections, clearly qualify to chair the EC.
However, the political parties have tagged these institutions as favouring particular parties; therefore, appointing any of the two fine gentlemen is bound to attract heated debates.
President John Mahama is mandated by the constitution to appoint the EC boss in consultation with the Council of State, and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) party is likely to fully endorse the appointee.
However, civil society groups, the main opposition party the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the other political parties are likely to dig deep to find out the appointee’s association with the NDC irrespective of the nominee’s track record.
For this reason, it will be prudent for the President to nominate a candidate as quickly as possible so that by June, when Dr Afari-Gyan retires, a new EC boss will be ready to take office.
Dr Afari-Gyan’s record
Dr Afari-Gyan was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Interim National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the then Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) government.
The INEC supervised the 1992 elections that returned Ghana to multi-party democracy.
With the coming into force of the 1992 Constitution, a new EC was set up, and Dr Afari-Gyan became its first substantive Chairman and has supervised five presidential, parliamentary and district assembly elections.