EC Ready For ROPAL –

Dr. Eric Bossman Asare

Ghanaians living abroad will vote in
this year’s elections; the first time the franchise is being extended to them.

In an interview with DAILY
last Saturday, Dr. Eric Bossman Asare, a Deputy Chairperson of
the Electoral Commission (EC) in charge of Administration, said this would be
in consonance with a High Court ruling that the terms of the Representation of
the People’s (Amendment) Law (ROPAL) be implemented.

The EC is only waiting for the nod of
Parliament so the commission can go ahead with preparations for the polls to be
conducted for Ghanaians.

“A CI will be sent to the
Attorney-General’s Department which office will then send it to Parliament for
its approval so the terms of the ruling can be implemented,” he said.

Per the court ruling, a CI has to be
sent to Parliament by the end of the month which timeline, he said, the EC
would meet.

Continuing, he said “EC will do what
it has to do. If Parliament gives its approval then we would conduct the
elections for Ghanaians abroad. We have been to the US and Senegal already as
part of preparations for the implementation of ROPAL.”

ROPAL Committee

Earlier last year, a committee was
empanelled with Dr. Eric Bossman Asare as chairman to craft modalities for the
rollout of ROPAL, the outcome of which was the identification of three key
actions to facilitate the achievement of the objective.

Countrywide public forums to solicit
inputs from citizens, engagement with Ghanaians abroad and visits to four
countries abroad currently operating external voting were the actions decided

These countries were identified as
United States of America (USA), the United Kingdom, Mali and South Africa.

Maiden Meeting

At the committee’s maiden meeting, it
would be recalled that members agreed to request written submissions from the
public towards successful implementation of the law.

Legal Backing

The implementation of ROPAL is
mandatory because it is a law. Observers have wondered why after its passage
into law since 2006 it has remained a subject of foot-dragging, especially
between 2008 and 2011.

A previous committee set up to make
recommendations on the way forward for the EC submitted its report in September

Court Action

With no sign of something being done
about rolling out ROPAL, some concerned persons proceeded to court asking that
the EC be compelled to implement the law.

Jean Mensa’s Committee

For her to have a better picture of
the situation and the way forward, the chairperson of the EC constituted a
fresh committee as aforementioned.

Report Deadline
The June-ending deadline was a problem for the committee considering the
exhaustive terms of reference before it which included among others
local consultations and foreign visits.

High Court Ruling

The High Court ruling included 20-month
duration for the implementation failure to meet which the ruling ordered the EC
to make a public announcement about a new date because of its inability to
abide by the dateline.

Issues And Resolutions

A lot of water has passed under the
bridge since the maiden meeting of the committee to date. Questions were raised
by various stakeholders about the qualification of eligible voters, the status
of voters living abroad, some of them being illegal immigrants and
jurisdictional matters in case of electoral breaches.

A consensus was reached after exhaustive debates by the committee members that
eligible voters must have valid Ghanaian passports and Ghana cards.

More Feathers For EC

When ROPAL is eventually implemented,
an enigma would have been cracked and the new leadership of the EC attracting
the credit for the feat.

Whether the non-implementation was an
act of omission or commission only Ghanaians can tell.

As for Ghanaians abroad, they would heave a sigh of relief having complained for so long over their non-inclusion on the electoral roll regardless of their mammoth annual remittances to the country.

By A.R. Gomda