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Feature Article of Friday, 14 September 2012

Columnist: Genfi, Brogya

Re- Open Letter to Dr. Afari-Gyan and Electoral Commission

*.......from Yaw Osafo-Maafo*

*September 13, 2012*

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*I write in direct response to a letter directed at the Electoral Commission (EC) by Hon. Yaw Osafo-Maafo and published on September 12, 2012. *

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*My target therefore for this response is Hon. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan as well as the other six Commissioners. *

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*I must make it clear that I do not intend defending the EC but the Constitution. *

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*Article 41 of the 1992 Constitution which talks about the duties of a citizen states: “The exercise and enjoyment of rights and freedoms is inseparable from the performance of duties and obligations, and accordingly, it shall be the duty of every citizen – *

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*(b) to uphold and defend this Constitution and the law; “*

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*I am a Ghanaian and would like to be a good citizen!*

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*First of all, the creation of the 45 additional constituencies has not raised any controversy as indicated by Hon. Osafo-Maafo. Indeed it is the political party that Hon. Osafo-Maafo belongs that has consciously created an irritating noise about the Constitutional Instrument (CI) before Parliament seeking to create constituencies for elections 2012. *

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*The noise of the NPP can not constitute a controversy which is “**systematically undermining the peace prevailing in the country”. Certainly, there is no tension in the country. *

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*What could cause tension in this country more than a member of Hon. Osafo-Marfo’s party inciting the people of Ashanti to kill all the people of Ewe and Ga descent in Ashanti Region?***

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*I am very much happy that Hon. Osafo-Maafo admitted that the NPPs “controversy does not **challenge the Constitutional Powers of the Electoral Commission (E.C.) under Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan to create new constituencies at a point in time as stipulated in the Constitution but the TIMING of it with special reference to the next elections slated for the 7th of December, 2012 less than 3 months from now”.***

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*The admission of Hon. Osafo-Marfo that the EC has the Constitutional powers to do what they are doing now, should have ended his letter.*

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*The issue of timing is also an issue of law! Has the EC breached any law on timing? The answer is no! The EC by law has to close nominations for the filling of candidates for elections at least 30 days before the general elections. Has that law been broken?*

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* Hon Yaw Osafo-Maafo states “**The most dangerous thing to do in the interpretation of any Law or the Constitution of 1992 for that matter is to give it a narrow interpretation disregarding the overall intention of the document. In interpreting the Constitution people always talk about the LETTER and SPIRIT of the Constitution. While the “Letter” refers to the specific clauses in the Constitution and powers such clauses confer on people, institutions, etc., the “Spirit” refers to the relationships of the various specifics, the rationale underpinning the various clauses as well as their overall intentions in the attainment of the ideals of rule of law, good governance and the promotion of democracy, peace and stability in the country.”*

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*The most dangerous thing to do (in my opinion), is for persons to arrogate to themselves the powers of the Supreme Court of Ghana. As a result, the issue of the “Letter” and “Spirit” must be left to the Supreme Court to determine. *

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*My fear at this stage is quenched by the mere fact that Hon. Yaw Osafo-Maafo is neither a Justice of the Supreme Court nor an embodiment of the Supreme Court of Ghana.*

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*The argument by Hon. Osafo-Maafo about article 55(5) under “Organization of Political Parties” is untenable and more importantly because it is being advanced by a member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). *

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*For the records, the NPP has already elected their candidates for some of the new constituencies under discussion. For example, the candidate for the NPP in the new Sekyere Afram Plains Constituency in Ashanti Region, Samuel K. Amponsah (a.k.a. Alhaji) has started his campaign in earnest with his posters all over the constituency capital – Drobonso.*

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*In any case, the NPP is yet to elect their candidates for the Bekwai, Bosome Freho, Nkawkaw and other constituencies. So, what is the point of timing when you have no candidates for some of the already existing constituencies? *

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*Again, Hon. Osafo-Maafo states “This is particularly so when account is taken of the fact that the Constitution in its Article 47(5) accords to the E.C. flexibility in the determination of when to create new constituencies after every population census. Article 47(5) states that “The Electoral Commission shall review the division of Ghana into constituencies at intervals of not less than seven years, or within twelve months after the publication of the enumeration figures after the holding of census of the population of Ghana, whichever is earlier, and may, as a result, alter the constituencies.” *

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*He then proceeds to interpret this article using the ‘glasses of the elephant’. This with all due respect amounts to intellectual dishonesty. *

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*Article 47 (5) brings to bear two (2) reasons that mandates the EC to review the division of Ghana into constituencies. It talks about:*

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*1. **“…… the Electoral Commission shall review the divisions of Ghana into constituencies at intervals of not less than seven years….”*

*2. **“…… twelve months after the publication of the enumeration figures after the holding of census of the population of Ghana….”*

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*The last time that the EC reviewed Ghana into constituencies was 2004.*

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*The concerns of Former President John Agyekum Kufour should be ignored by the EC; they must respect the laws of the land.*

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*The NPP cannot take Ghanaians for a ride! *

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*Almost every Ghanaian who resides in Ghana knew that the EC was going add more constituencies at the beginning of 2012. What we did not know was how many was to be added.*

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*I am reliably informed that an Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting in May 2012 agreed that the EC should go ahead with the constituencies review. *

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*The first opposition was from the Minority when the EC officially informed Parliament in June 2012 about the creation of additional constituencies. The minority at the time demanded to know the formula used by the EC in the regional distribution. *

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*Apparently, the EC had used the same formula it used in 2004 under President Kufour. Why did the minority abandon this argument? *

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*When the minority was flawed by EC on the formula, they then jumped on some childish argument; Parliament house is too small to accommodate new MPs. Never did the Minority raise an issue of timing then. On Tuesday 26thJune, 2012, the Minority leader of Parliament Hon Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu on a Multi TV’s PM express programme remarked that “Parliament has no space to accommodate 45 more MPs”. Why has the argument of too many constituencies been abandoned?*

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*I must submit that the number of MPs that Ghana may have is also an issue of law.*

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*Article 47 (1) of the 1992 Constitution states: “Ghana shall be divided into as many constituencies for the purpose of election of members of Parliament as the Electoral Commission may prescribe, and each constituency shall be represented by one member of Parliament” *

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*Another point worth noting is that the NPP wants to personalize the electoral commission in the image of Dr. Afari-Gyan to serve their interest of demonizing him. *

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*We should bear in mind that Dr. Afari-Gyan has complained publicly that he has been receiving death threats on his life.*

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*Indeed an outspoken and senior member of the NPP Dr. Nyaho Tamakloe has threatened that **“if the EC Commissioner, Dr. Afari Gyan does not want to burn his fingers, then he should let this country be one. If he does not want to burn his fingers, then he should think twice about these 45 constituencies he is trying to create.”*

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*What Ghana deserves to know from Mr. Osafo-Maafo is whether or not he supports the death threats on Dr. Afari-Gyan? It is very, very unfortunate that his open letter to Dr. Afari-Gyan is silent on the death threats on the life of the EC Chairman.*

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*Article 43 (1) of the 1992 Constitution states: “There shall be an Electoral Commission which shall consist of *

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*(a) **A chairman;*

*(b) **Two Deputy Chairmen; and *

*(c) **Four other members. *

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*The EC is not Dr. Afari-Gyan; it is a seven (7) member Commission.*

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*Again, let no Member of Parliament (MP) make a mistake of deceiving him/herself that he/she is superior to any member of the EC. This is fundamentally so because article 44 (1) states: “A person is not qualified to be appointed a member of the Electoral Commission unless he is qualified to be elected as a member of Parliament”*

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*In this vein, I call upon the leadership of the National Peace Council, Former President Jerry John Rawlings, National Chief Imam, leadership of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Ghana and other church leaders, various heads of the Civil Society groupings, and all peace loving Ghanaians to rather call the NPP and its surrogates to order and to cease the threats and insults on Dr. Afari-Gyan in order to allow the EC carry on its Constitutional duties.*

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*The EC should in turn ignore the noise and carry out its mandate as required by law. They should be emboldened by article 46 of the 1992 Constitution which states: “Except as provided in this Constitution or in any other law not inconsistent with this Constitution, in the performance of its functions, the Electoral Commission, shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority.” *

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*Dr. Afari-Gyan, you have led the commission to keep the peace of this country during some turbulent periods – you must not undermine your good record by allowing persons and other non-Constitutional bodies to dictate, direct or control the Commission.*

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*Dr. Afari-Gyan, if nobody could control or direct you in 2008 even when they had the Executive Powers from the Constitution, why must you allow them to issue instructions to you on campaign platforms when they now have no powers whatsoever from any laws of Ghana?*

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*Thank you.*

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*Your Registered Voter *

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*Brogya Genfi*

*(Suame Constituency – Ashanti Region)*

*egenfi@gmail.com*

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