Politics of Friday, 1 August 2014
A former presidential candidate of the biggest opposition party in Ghana has described his country’s voter register as “bogus.”
“Our message to Dr [Kwadwo] Afari Gyan [Chairman of the Electoral Commission] and the Electoral Commission is simple: we need a register that truly represents those who are entitled to vote in Ghana. The current register is bogus,” Nana Akufo-Addo, who is aiming to lead the New Patriotic Party into another general election for the third time, told party supporters in the northern regional capital, Tamale, on Thursday, ahead of a Special Electoral College and presidential primary of the Party.
“We are not interested in playing the blame game. We are only interested in doing what is right for our democracy. Let us all work together on this. Ghanaian elections should not be West African election,” the former Attorney General said.
He mentioned that “according to our country's National Census, half of the population of Ghana (including non-Ghanaians) are below the age of 21 (in fact, the median age in Ghana is 20.8). And, yet, the records show that 56.8% of that total national population found their names on the 2012 voters' register. This can only be bogus.”
“In the whole of Africa, a continent with a young population, Ghana has the highest voters' register as a percentage of the total population. Our checks show that nowhere in Africa has a voter population of more than 50% of the total population. For example, South Africa - 47.9%; Cote d'Ivoire - 27.45%, Kenya - 34.5%, Nigeria - 41.7%, and Senegal - 41.5%. But, here in Ghana, ours is 56.8%! This is even bigger than any register we, ourselves, have used in all previous elections in Ghana before 2012. Ask yourself why?”
He also demanded a forensic audit of the current register. “As a first step before the District Assembly election, we want to ask the Electoral Commission to heed to the calls of civil society and political parties, including CPP, PNC, PPP and NPP, to allow for an independent, forensic audit of the existing biometric voters register.”
“I am told the entire process, from the opening of competitive international bids to the completion of the forensic biometric audit, could take up to a couple of months,” the two-time presidential candidate said, adding: “This first step can be taken before the next District Assembly Election. To do this will send a strong signal to the country that the Electoral Commission is sincere and serious on the question of electoral reforms. Let the audit of the current register serve as a key step to restoring public confidence in our electoral system. It is an important decision that we have to take to consolidate our democracy.”
The Commission will from August 4 to August 13, start a limited registration exercise of new voters.
“We understand that has to be done, as the Constitution requires, before the next public election, which is the District Assembly election. So we have no problem with the exercise itself. Our problem, however, is that it will amount to adding more names to a register that is already discredited. So, we want the Electoral Commission to listen to the growing calls for a credible register and do what is required after to achieve that,” Akufo-Addo said.