General News of Tuesday, 19 December 2017
A former director of elections at the Electoral Commission (EC), Albert Arhin believes Ghana’s Electoral Commission is capable of implementing the Representation of the People Amendment Act also known as the ROPAA. as ordered by the court.
According to him, the Commission needs to be “smart” and tactful to ensure a successful implementation of the law.
The Accra High Court on Monday ordered the EC to implement the ROPAA which was passed in 2006 and sought to empower eligible Ghanaians outside the country to vote in national elections.
The law has, however, not been implemented by successive governments, leaving many Ghanaians abroad disenfranchised.
Albert Arhin, who is also the National Coordinator for the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) in an interview on Eyewitness News said the decision of the court was welcome and will deepen the country’s democratic credentials.
“To some of us, especially CODEO, it is good news. It is a good verdict, it enhances democracy because you don’t need to disenfranchise anybody… with this verdict, the Commission has to be very smart and careful to revisit the whole thing. They need to have a Constitutional Instrument to back it,” he said.
He argued that it was long overdue for the Electoral Commission to embrace the opportunity of extending voting to citizens outside the country.
“In other African countries, their Electoral Commission is doing it, and I think that our Electoral Commission has developed into a state where we should be able to do a thing like this. The others who are doing it are not better than the Electoral Commission we have here. We should be able to learn from best practices and be able to implement this. It is not beyond us.”
The Electoral Commission had argued that its failure not to allow Ghanaians outside the country case their ballots during national elections was due logistical and financial constraints but according to Mr. Arhin, the EC on its own cannot suggest it does not have adequate funds to support voting by Ghanaians living outside the country.
He said the EC must request for funding from the government who would then decide whether to allocate some money to the Commission for this purpose.
“The EC cannot say it does not have funding. It should be the government that says it does not have funds for the EC. You [EC] must prepare your budget and present it to government and if the government tells you it has no funding then you can tell Ghanaians that this is what I did and they said there is no money. But you cannot sit there on your own and say there is no money,” he said.
He further urged the Commission to begin preparations towards the implementation of the law for the country’s 2020 general elections.
‘Diffulcult to implement ROPAA’
Mr. Arhin’s comments come after suggestions from the National Organiser of the NDC, Kofi Adams, that the implementation of the Act will be difficult.
According to him the difficulties that political parties face in mobilizing and deploying officers to monitor electoral processes will be compounded by the implementation of the law.
“Of course the issues that we raised are still very relevant today. The fact still remains that political parties registered in Ghana here still have challenges to monitor the political processes even within Ghana so now you are going to follow every Ghanaian everywhere. Is the Electoral Commission going to now resource and support political parties to make sure that they reach everywhere there will be a Ghanaian to campaign and to track the process or in other words to present party agents? We still insist that the law as it is, is very difficult to implement.”