Pressure group, Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) has petitioned UK’s Royal Institute of International Affairs not to confer the 2017 Chatam House award on the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei.
According to AFAG, the EC boss faced too many lawsuits in the run-up to the 2016 elections and hence did not deserve the award.
“The Electoral Commission was dragged to court a record 12 times under her leadership in less than 24 months. Mrs Charlotte Osei was on the wrong side of all significant court litigation prior to the election, including those she initiated (such as the correct interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling on ridding the voter roll of ineligible persons, grounds for disqualifying presidential aspirants). The impunity with which she acted on several occasions and her blatant disregard for Supreme Court rulings against her outfit makes her unfit and undeserving for your noble prize.” the AFAG petition said.
The EC boss was nominated in April by the award committee for her role in “ensuring a peaceful and transparent electoral process in Ghana in December 2016, further consolidating Ghana’s 24-year long democratic journey”.
Other dignitaries in contention for the award are Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia and Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary-General of NATO.
The Chatham House Prize is awarded to the person, persons or organization deemed to have made the most significant contribution to the improvement of international relations in the previous year.
But AFAG said Mrs Osei does not deserve the award because the 2016 elections was only successful because of external influences.
Read the full petition addressed to the president UK’s Royal institute of international Affairs.
MRS CHARLOTTE OSEI, GHANA’S ELECTORAL COMMISSIONER, UNFIT FOR CHATHAM HOUSE PRIZE
The Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG), Ghana, is a keen follower of your activities. We appreciate your mission to “help build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just world”. In Ghana, we are a civil society organisation, independent of the state, to ensure that we contribute to the proper functioning of our democracy and enlightening the Ghanaian public.
In October 2008, we were, as most Ghanaians, delighted that the Chatham House honoured President John Agyekum Kufuor with the Chatham House Prize. His achievements were quite obvious and celebrated across the globe.
However, AFAG, with much of the civil society community in Ghana, is alarmed following the news that Mrs Charlotte Osei has been shortlisted for the prestigious award in her short and unimpressive stay at the helm of Electoral Commission of Ghana. AFAG is a champion of democratic processes, supportive of any actor in the electoral space that deserves to be rewarded for their work but we have strong reservation on Mrs. Charlotte Osei.
We respectfully state our reservations as follows:
1. The Electoral Commission was dragged to court a record 12 times under her leadership in less than 24 months. Mrs Charlotte Osei was on the wrong side of all significant court litigation prior to the election, including those she initiated (such as the correct interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling on ridding the voter roll of ineligible persons, grounds for disqualifying presidential aspirants). The impunity with which she acted on several occasions and her blatant disregard for Supreme Court rulings against her outfit makes her unfit and undeserving for your noble prize.
2. Significant omissions in the provision of C1 94, leaving huge gaps in election transparency and independent poll results validation contrary to the recommendations contained in the Supreme Court on the 2012 presidential election petition. This had to be corrected through litigation. An example is the Electoral Commission’s returning officers’ mandatory signature on the official poll results and party agent access to the same document.
3. Developments between the closing of the polls on December 7 and announcement of final election results on December 9, which brought the country to a state of apprehension and created needless tension, could have been completely avoided. This was caused by:
a. Delay in release of presidential polls on the grounds that the EC’s IT department had been “compromised”;
b. Alleged over-voting in Ashanti Region that was ostensibly being investigated before official certification. This proved to be a delay tactic and false.
c. Putting out a blatantly wrong figure of 49 per cent as interim voter turnout for the presidential poll, which was later debunked.
4. Credible intelligence that the EC had set up two lines to transmit presidential election results (a super high-speed line and regular speed line) without disclosure to all the presidential contestants or their representatives on the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC).
5. Enforcement of electoral rules by the EC and political party accountability remains weak. What is more worrying is her blatant refusal to take advice and consider opinions from stakeholders. As we know, Ghana is not a dictatorship to warrant dictatorial tendencies.
6. The EC did not have any plan towards setting up the National Collation Centre in a more spacious location on election day to accommodate many stakeholders. This made it difficult for many stakeholders to follow certified results as and when the EC received them.
7. The EC under Mrs Charlotte Osei failed to capture two sources of internally generated funds (IGF) in its 2017 budget estimates presented to Ghana’s parliament in April 2017. This is a clear case of graft distasteful in all intents. These funds were from journalists (GHC10.00 as accreditation fee for Election 2016, something unknown in Ghana’s election history. She further charged GHC5.00 for every application for a misplaced/lost voter ID card).
8. The European Union Observation Mission in its report on Ghana’s 2016 election had this to say: “The registration process for presidential candidates in the 2016 elections (under Mrs. Charlotte Osei) was problematic. The process was not sufficiently inclusive and the spirit of the law was not fully respected.”
9. That Mrs Charlotte Osei has brought disunity into the seven-member Commission which does not augur well for the wellbeing and image of the Commission.
10. A report on 30th March 2017, from Ghana’s Special Budget Committee of Parliament, had concluded that as a result of Mrs Charlotte Osei’s leadership the Commissioners do not trust themselves. There is gross distrust amongst the seven-member Commission under her leadership, and that they are not on good terms with each other. (See www.starrfmonline.com/2017/03/30/ec). This was never the case under the former Chairman of the Commission.
11. The Electoral Commission’s own in-house software had such a weak security protocol that in the word of Mrs Osei: “We were forced to ignore the software and use manual collations.” Clearly this is not the hallmark of an award-winning performance. If any actor to the electoral process had raised a concern in concert with other issues raised, it might have been unnerving for the nation, considering that, primarily, post-election activities are a key trigger to election violence.
12. Mrs Osei faulted profoundly when she refused to give access to the secured transmitted results, even as a read-only access. Many of the political party representatives found this behaviour unacceptable since it appears to be shrouded in secrecy and lacked transparency.
13. It is worth noting that Mrs Charlotte Osei’s bizarre posture not to allow for a transparent process before the elections, led to some Ghanaian citizens registering their displeasure through peaceful demonstrations. “One of such peaceful demonstrations turned violent when the police (allegedly on the instruction of powerful persons in the then government) visited brutal attacks on ordinary Ghanaian demonstrators, most especially on women who took part in the demonstration. During the course of the brutality, one gentleman lost an eye as a result of fired rubber bullets by the police. There is pictorial evidence available: http://www.myjoyonline.com/politics/2015/September-16th/photos-violence-mars-let-my-vote-count-demo.php
14. Finally, the EC had no instant social media update for which many Ghanaians who are on the move can rely on for trustworthy updates. So the reportage that such system was up and running should be disregarded and not counted as an achievement.
In conclusion, Mrs Charlotte Osei may have announced historic presidential election results on the 9th on December but the many issues surrounding her administration could have occasioned unfortunate and regrettable occurrences. She fought and misrepresented many meaningful suggestions towards the peaceful elections, which caused major embarrassment for her outfit.
The peaceful outcome of the 2016 general elections was the collective effort and tolerance the political parties had for each other and goodwill that Ghanaians have enjoyed since the birth of the 4th Republic in 1992.
We, respectfully, strongly implore your distinguished organisation to ponder your final consideration. It is time to ignore and punish public officials who act with complete disdain for the constitution and disregard court rulings but turn round to hypocritically and opportunistically seek honours they have not earned.
DR NANA AYEW AFRIYIE
CC: HE JOHN BENJAMIN,
BRITISH HIGH COMMISSIONER,