General News of Tuesday, 10 September 2013
Source: The New Statesman
The General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party says the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, has lost credibility and should resign as a matter of urgency before the any meaningful electoral reforms, if any, can be done, ahead of the 2016 elections.
Speaking to the New Statesman, in an exclusive interview, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, also known as Sir John, explained that the EC boss’ credibility had been decimated during the hearing of the Presidential Election Petition and could no longer be considered as a credible person to head this important institution.
Sir John recalled how Dr Afari-Gyan, on the final day of the election petition, in an attempt to prove that there were no triplications and quadruplications in the printing of pink sheets, ended up tendering in 17 “fake” pink sheets.
These revelations, amongst others, during the course of the hearing, according to Sir John, make the continued stay of Dr Afari-Gyan as the head of the EC untenable.
Indeed, Justice Jones Dotse, one of the judges hearing the election petition, in his judgement stated on page 421 that “bearing in mind the wealth of experience Dr. Afari-Gyan should have gained since 1993, I am of the considered view that he cannot entirely escape blame for the many infractions of the Returning Officers, Presiding Officers and their assistants and to some extent their printers.”
Regarding the selection of presiding officers, Justice Dotse stated that “It is in this respect that I think the Electoral Commission Chairman, Dr. Afari-Gyan cannot escape blame. My observation is that, Dr. Afari-Gyan appeared to have concentrated his oversight responsibility at the top notch of the election administration, thereby abdicating his supervisory role at the grassroots or bottom, where most of the activities critical to the conduct of elections are performed.”
Justice Dotse continued, “In this instance, he even appeared not to be conversant with some of the basic procedural steps and rules that are performed by his so called temporary staff. So far as I am concerned, Dr. Afari-Gyan has cut a very poor figure of himself, and the much acclaimed competent election administrator both nationally and internationally has evaporated into thin air once his portfolio has come under the close scrutiny of the Courts.”
In a related issue, the NPP General Secretary also noted that there are genuine concerns about the constitutional provisions on how the Chairman of the EC is appointed.
Article 70 (2) of the constitutions stipulates that “The President shall, acting on the advice of the Council of State, appoint the Chairman, Deputy Chairmen, and other members of the Electoral Commission.”
Sir John explained that this constitutional provision vests too much power in the President over the appointment of the EC boss, as a president can appoint a 35 year old person as head of the body, and that person will be at the helm of the EC for a period spanning 35 years, as the mandatory retirement age for the head of the EC is 70 years.
“This is something that has to be looked at. Even a Supreme Court judge, before assuming his position on the Bench is vetted by Parliament. Why should the head of the body mandated to conduct elections be appointed by the President and not be vetted by parliament?” Sir John asked.
The NPP General Secretary added that the party will come out formally with its position on these issues soon.