Supreme Court order already part of our programme - EC (May 6, 2016)
The Electoral Commission (EC) says although it is yet to study the Supreme Court ruling that has ordered it to clean the voters register, it has already put in place a programme that is dealing with the court’s directive.
“The good thing is that what the Supreme Court is asking the EC to do is something that we have put in place as a programme and doing it,” the Deputy Commissioner of the EC in charge of Corporate and General Services, Ms Georgina Opoku Amankwaa, told the media in reaction to the court’s ruling.
She, however, said “the EC is yet to get a copy of the judgement, study it and see what is in there” before it could respond.
The Supreme Court, in a ruling yesterday, ordered the EC to delete the names of persons who were registered unconstitutionally in 2012 from the voters register.
The ruling could mean that all persons who registered to vote in the 2012 elections with National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards will have their names deleted.
Also to be deleted from the register are the names of deceased persons and minors.
The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, however, gave the chance to those who would be disenfranchised due to the new directive to re-register.
Ms Amankwaa was addressing the media after a closed-door meeting with a team of officials from the East African Community (EAC) election management bodies from Kenya, Burundi, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda.
The meeting was to explore issues of mutual interest between the EC and its Eastern African counterparts.
Answering questions from the media, Ms Amankwaa admitted that there were some hitches in the ongoing limited voters registration exercise which the EC started on April 28 and expected some 1.2 million people to be added to the electoral roll by May 8.
But she said where the issues bordered on criminality, the EC was in discussions with the police to prosecute the culprits to curtail such incidents in the future.
Concerning areas such as the University of Ghana where potential voters who turned up to register could not do so because of inadequate registration centres, she said the EC was opening extra centres to ease the pressure and speed up the registration.
No extension discussed
Asked about a possible extension of the May 8 closing day for the limited registration, she said the EC had not discussed the extension of the date, but was quick to add that “after the exercise, we will look at issues holistically and see if they merit an extension”.
With the court asking for the cleaning of the register and some political parties, particularly the New Patriotic Party (NPP), asking for the validation of the register, the deputy commissioner said the EC would use the exhibition period to clean the register.
Tentatively, by its programme, that exercise has been scheduled for the end of June.
Decision on challenge
There have been media reports that political party agents are abusing the challenge forms, ostensibly to frustrate known members of rival parties not to register.
But Ms Amankwaa said the EC’s decision to undertake an exhibition of the voters register at the end of May was to give room for committees set up by the commission to handle persons whose registration had been challenged to do their work.
“The committees are working on the challenge issues. They will determine whether such challenges should be upheld or rejected. The work of the committees will inform the EC whether or not to include the names of those who have been challenged,” she added.
On the continuous registration of voters to ensure that people who turn 18 could easily be registered to replace the limited registration, she said there was an arrangement between the EC and the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) for that to happen.
She recalled that at its last meeting, IPAC agreed that the Reform Committee of the EC should take the matter up and work on the guidelines submitted by the EC, with inputs from the political parties, a process that she said was ongoing.
For the first time, the EC has decided to bring forward Ghana’s voting day from December 7 to November 7, but the process is yet to be completed.
On that, Mrs Amankwaa said the EC had done all it needed to do to ensure that the law was passed and explained that everything was now in the hands of Parliament and the Council of State, as the first gazette had been done and the second expected to be done next week.
“For us, whatever we have to do within our power has been done. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the elections will take place on November 7,” she said.
The Deputy Secretary General of the EAC , Mr Charles Njoroge, was full of praise for the EC for its work which he stated had been grounded on a very strong foundation.
He urged Ghanaians to go into the elections with peace in mind, as “there is tomorrow and politics is not just about today”.
While urging countries on the continent to learn from the EC, he also encouraged the EC to open its doors for more dialogue.