General News of Wednesday, 20 December 2017
The National Organiser of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Kofi Adams, has stated that the party is not against Ghanaians outside the country being allowed to vote in national elections, contrary to suggestions the party was opposed to it.
According to him, such claims were being made against the party by opponents who only wanted to exploit the situation for political gain.
Kofi Adams said the NDC has been committed to ensuring that all Ghanaians everywhere are able to exercise their franchise since the ROPAL was passed in 2006. “I’ve heard many persons say the NDC don’t want people to exercise their rights. That’s vintage from our opponents; that’s what they are good at. When they have a challenge, they feel that the NDC’s will be their punching bag,”he said.
“NDC has always been committed to every Ghanaian living everywhere exercising a right to vote. That right must be exercised in an organised manner that will not create a chaotic situation. That’s why the NDC has never been opposed to Ghanaians whether they are resident in Europe, in America or Togo or Benin or Nigeria from coming home since the amendments of our laws to allow them to register and vote. That is why every time the NDC has been in power, we’ve never had our borders being closed for purposes of elections, we keep them open.”
The Accra High Court on Monday ordered the EC to implement the Representation of the People Amendment Law which was passed in 2006 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.
The Electoral Commission had argued that, its failure not to allow Ghanaians outside the country cast their ballots during national elections was due logistical and financial constraints.
Kofi Adams had also earlier suggested the implementation of the law could compound the challenges parties face when monitoring the processes at election centers.
However, a former director of elections at the EC, Albert Arhin, believes the Commission is capable of implementing the ROPAL as ordered by the court.
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.”