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General News of Monday, 12 October 2015

Source: Class FM

Allow new EC boss to settle in – Akufo-Addo

Charlotte Osei, EC Chair Charlotte Osei, EC Chair

Presidential Hopeful Nana Akufo-Addo has said he will give the new Chair of Ghana’s independent Electoral Commission the benefit of the doubt, in dealing with issues concerning demands for a new electoral roll, as well as other reforms tabled before her by some groups and political parties.

“As far as I’m concerned…all of us would have to give her an opportunity to settle [in],” he said Monday, adding: “Three, four months into a job is still not really settling [in], and having to deal with very important issues from the get-go.”

“I’m hoping that what I’ve heard that she has an open mind on the issues before her table [is] true, and that, at the end of the day, she is going to make up her mind based on the evidence that has been assembled to her about the register and other reforms in the system,” the three-time Flagbearer of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) told Bernard Avle on the Citi Breakfast Show Monday, October 12, 2015.

Some proposals have been presented to Charlotte Osei – who succeeded former Chair Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan in June – and her other Commissioners at the EC, over the sanctity and integrity of the electoral roll.

Anti-government pressure group, Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA), which recently filed a petition at the Human Rights Council of the United Nations General Assembly, against the Government of Ghana and the country’s Police Chief for “human rights violations” meted out to some of its members, who attempted picketing the EC over the matter, on two failed occasions, has been the main advocate.

The petition, filed by Kwame Agyeman-Budu, Ibrahim Sanni, Issah Ballah and Mujeeb Mogtaari accused the Government of Ghana of “violating the international human rights of the country and the people,” by “deliberating using their control of state institutions to turn the country into a police totalitarian state.”

In the view of the petitioners, the Police’s use of force and the court to prevent the group from picketing the Commission is a breach of: UN Charter, Chapter 1, article 1 (3); the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right.

The Police botched the pickets with an explanation that the Commission is a security installation.

On the group’s first attempt, the Police fired tear gas and water cannons at the demonstrators, as well as beat some of them up with truncheons and cudgels, for, allegedly, veering off agreed routes for the protest activity.

The second attempt was thwarted by a restraining order from the court.

Apart from insisting that the EC is a security installation, which cannot accommodate picketing, the Police Service said it gathered intelligence that indicated that robbers and criminals posed a threat to the country’s security, and, therefore, could not spare any officers to safeguard a picket.

Leaders of the group accused the Police of trumping up excuses to frustrate their protest.

When she spoke on the issue for the first time, the Chair of the EC, Charlotte Osei told Journalists at a press conference that the EC “is a security installation to the extent that at least, for nothing else, we have a data centre here, which carries very sensitive information and biometric details of 14 million Ghanaians.”

She demanded clarity on what the Alliance meant by picketing. “It depends on what you call picketing and they will have to define that.”

“You have to recognise that we have lives here, work is ongoing. As much as people have the right to demonstrate, others have the right to go about their duties normally,” Mrs Osei said.

In his interview on Monday, Mr Akufo-Addo said even though it was important not to railroad the new Chair into taking decisions, it was nonetheless important for her to act quickly to bring clarity on the concerns raised by the groups that are pushing for a new register.

“I’ll like to encourage her to maintain that open mind, and at the same time, find a way to hasten the process of making a decision because if you decide that you’re going to have a new register, it carries with it several steps before you get a new register; and the sooner that decision is made so that the country can be properly prepared for the election of 2016, the better,” the former Attorney-General said.

He acknowledged that “she’s set out a road map; I’ll hope if possible that that roadmap is quickened, but for the time being, I think it is right for all of us to give her the opportunity to lead us, hopefully down the right path, because we all know how important the issues she has to deal with are, and for myself, I’m prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt.”

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