General News of Thursday, 31 May 2012
30TH MAY 2012
The Electoral Commission
Attn: Dr. Kwadwo Afari Djan
NPP Commends the Electoral Commission on the Biometric Registration Exercise
The recently-held Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) exercise has just ended and The New Patriotic Party (NPP) wishes to congratulate the Electoral Commission (EC) on the success with which it has conducted the exercise across the country within a relatively tight timeframe.
Whilst we pat the EC’s shoulders for a job well done, we would at the same time like to register our concerns, based on our agents’ experiences and media reporting on the ground in constituencies and polling stations across all 10 regions, of the challenges and inadequacies which characterised the implementation of BVR in a number of Registration Centres, and which will have played a significant role in delays, bottlenecks, raised tempers, occasional violence, and public disquiet about the actual and perceived inefficiency of Registration officials in some areas. For example, the incidence of computer, printers and equipment breakdown, power outages, shortages of supplies including laminates, papers, challenge forms, inks and toner cartridges, threatened to erode public confidence in the process. The NPP also feels that the training provided for Registration staff fell short of the standards expected of a massive national exercise of this nature. Resulting in instances where staff had little clue of the process, never mind their capacity to explain the process in simple terms to members of the public.
The lack of adequate security at some Registration centres led to pockets of intimidation by local thugs and the hijacking of processing equipment, which caused delays to, fear and anxiety among people attending those centres, some of whom were assaulted and prevented from exercising their democratic right to register.
Against the backdrop of the shortcomings we have catalogued above, the NPP urges the EC to investigate the many issues raised by the various political parties and social groups with a view to adequately addressing them and providing credible responses before the December general election. We feel it is also imperative that the EC organises an early IPAC meeting to discuss and address the numerous challenges that arose during the BVR exercise to ensure continued stakeholder confidence in the process, and the EC. Ignoring or sweeping those concerns and challenges under carpet will merely exacerbate those concerns in the run up to the December polls.
The NPP recognises the challenges the EC has faced in implementing the BVR for the first time in Ghana, even though they (EC) had the experiences of Nigeria, Uganda and other African and developing countries to draw on, we would however, strongly ask the EC to use the challenges identified during this maiden BVR exercise with a view to improving and building a robust Biometric Verification structure able to deliver the utmost transparent voting and results package for the upcoming December general election – the Ghanaian voting public and the democratic world watchers will expect nothing less.
We appreciate the problems they may be facing in December which may include equipment breakdown etc. We recommend that all the possibilities need to be identified and how to deal with each challenge agreed upon. Once all that has been agreed at the IPAC level, then the Parties can train their Election Day operatives properly to ensure we have a peaceful election day.
We cannot over-emphasise how critically important it is for the EC to engage with, fully brief and agree the methodology and processes for Election Day (7th December) with all the parties. We feel such engagement will enable us to better educate our people to gain a clear, common understanding of the steps to take to resolve any issues that might arise. We believe an Election Day Roadmap of this nature is a vital tool for a successful election.
The NPP further assures the EC of our unconditional support in their call for government to make available all the needed resources and funding to ensure and enable the EC to conduct a successful general election in December 2012. We wish to also unequivocally, re-iterate the NPP’s total commitment to the EC for a free and fair election in which voter enfranchisement is fully respected, and for the EC to take every necessary step to ensure that every valid vote is correctly counted and properly declared on Election Day.
Jake Otanka Obetsebi-Lamptey
• The Media
• IPAC Members