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Saturday, December 4, 2021

Discussions on electoral reforms not exclusive to political parties, EC only – Afari-Gyan

Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, former EC BossDr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, former EC Boss

• Afari-Gyan has called for an open discussion on the ongoing debate on electoral reforms

• According to him, the selection process for officials for electoral bodies worldwide differs

• The former EC boss said the matter should not be the exclusive preserve of the political parties and the EC

Former Electoral Commission boss, Kwadwo Afari Gyan, has said that although several countries require parliamentary approval for selecting members for an electoral body, the process is not a straitjacket for all.

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His comment was in response to the opposition National Democratic Congress’ proposal for some electoral reforms, which included provision for prior parliamentary approval for the appointment of EC members.

According to the NDC, the appointment of Electoral Commission officials must be like that of Justices of the Supreme Court which involves prior parliamentary approval.

Justifying their reason, the NDC said the current mode of appointment of members of the EC appeared to be partisan and does not involve the representatives of the people of Ghana (Parliament). They contend this does not allow the commission to be as independent, neutral and credible as it ought to be.

But Afari-Gyan was of the view discussions on electoral reforms are so important that they require sober reflection in a spirit of give and take, not partisan posturing.

He explained the need to specify a route to parliamentary approval while noting that the president appoints the members of the EC on the advice of the Council of State.

“There are different ways of composing the membership of election bodies around the world, and, indeed, several countries require parliamentary approval of the members. Currently, the President appoints the members of the EC on the advice of the Council of State. With regard to this proposal, it is important to specify the route to parliamentary approval,” part of his comment on the debate on electoral debate read.

He added, “Who will make the recommendation to parliament? What role, if any, will the Council of State play? Specifying the route to parliamentary approval will make it clearer to see whether this proposal constitutes an improvement on the current practice.”

Some months ago, the opposition party made some six proposals for electoral reforms at a press conference dubbed “Assessing the so-called achievements and electoral reform proposal by the Electoral Commission of Ghana.”

This followed the party’s absence at an IPAC meeting, where other stakeholders adopted some electoral reforms which included closing polls at 3:00 pm, a continuous voter registration exercise, all-year-round voter exhibition exercise through the use of technology (SMS shortcode), among others.

However, because the NDC did not participate, its members rejected some and came up with six reforms they deemed fit for Ghana’s electoral reforms.

They included a provision for prior parliamentary approval for the appointment of EC members, repealing the requirement for the consent of the AG to be given before the prosecution of electoral offences, Special Courts to handle election-related offences, just to mention a few.

Meanwhile, explaining his need to comment on the ongoing issue surrounding electoral reforms in the country, Afari-Gyan reiterated the essence of a discussion is to exchange views until the factions can reach a consensus or disagree on reasonable grounds

He noted that, “The electoral process belongs to the people of Ghana, so it is proper for individuals and groups, particularly election-related civil society organisations, that so wish, to contribute to the discussion.”

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