General News of Thursday, 12 September 2013
Source: Daily Graphic
A former South African President, Mr Frederik Willem de Klerk, has underscored the need for the institution of a commission made up of independent, widely respected and experienced individuals to oversee Ghana’s proposed electoral reforms.
He observed that although the Electoral Commission (EC) might have good intentions for asking the political parties to submit recommendations for the reforms, it would be wise if the commission did not lead the process.
Mr de Klerk, who was the main speaker at a post-Supreme Court judgement lecture organised by the Institute for Economic Affairs (IEA) in Accra last Tuesday, said while it seemed to be a good idea that the EC led the process, neither the commission nor the political parties consisted of experts.
Responding to a question from the audience on who should lead Ghana’s electoral reform process, he stated: “It is important that the skepticism of the legitimacy of the elections should be dealt with. And to do that, I personally think that the EC has a role to play, but it cannot lead the process of reforming the electoral process.”
Mr de Klerk was of the view that while it was inviting comments, the EC was not the proper body to consider such suggestions, although the involvement of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) seemed to be a good idea.
“On the other hand, the IPAC does not consist of experts on elections, so maybe the IPAC could be the forum within which to find concerns. Electoral reforms, preferably, should not become a party political issue on the street. It is very important that your two leading parties, from my viewpoint as an outsider, should talk to each other — that the leadership should reach an agreement that electoral reforms are necessary and agree on what processes to follow in order to arrive at conclusions on which reforms are necessary,” he said.
Mr de Klerk said he had, from past experiences, learnt that “at times a wisely appointed commission of enquiry can play an important role in defusing the emotions around the issue”.