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General News of Thursday, 31 May 2007

Source: GNA

DFP on ROPAA implementation

Accra, May 31, GNA - The Democratic Freedom Party (DFP) on Thursday advocated consensus-building on the implementation of the Representation of the Peoples Amendment Act (ROPAA) under which all Ghanaians all over the world have the right to vote in elections in Ghana.

In this direction, it has suggested that all political parties must be brought on board at IPAC so that whatever final decision comes out would have some credibility.

"This will certainly improve the democratic credentials of Ghana and push our agenda for development forward," it said in a statement signed by its Interim Deputy General Secretary Bede Ziedeng.

The DFP said it was not against the implementation of ROPAA in principle since it had now become law and had to be implemented unless repealed.

The statement said this was because it believed in the tenets of democracy, which was underpinned by the respect for laws of the country. However, it said, the DFP was concerned about practical problems associated with the implementation of the law which required the attention of the Electoral Commission (EC) as the institution charged with the responsibility of its implementation.

DFP said it was aware that the whole exercise would entail a huge financial outlay, considered against the backdrop of past elections being financed by donor support up to about 60 per cent of the cost. "It is therefore important for government to guarantee that there are enough funds available for the whole exercise before it commenced so that the project is not abandoned mid-stream."

DFP expressed concern about many aspects and asked whether the EC would carry out registration in all countries or the process would be limited to some countries only.

It said if it would not cover all countries, the EC should answer the rationale and the basis of denying some Ghanaians the right while extending it to others.

It referred to the proposal of the EC to make various Ghana missions the registration centres where there are at least 500 Ghanaians and asked how many registration and voting centres would be in countries where there are over 100,000 Ghanaians.

"How feasible will such an arrangement be, considering the fact that in Ghana the maximum allowable registered number of voters at a polling station is 2,000?"

DFP asked whether voters outside would be governed by the law that specifies that one has to have an abode or resident at a polling station for at least six months.

The party asked what judicial system would be used by the EC in resolving issues such as electoral fraud and how it would treat the vexed issue Ghanaians who had renounced their Ghanaian citizenship or lost their citizenship before the passage of the Dual Citizenship Law.

The DFP also queried why the proposal by the EC limits voting to only the presidential election.

"How does the EC intend to facilitate political parties to enable them to canvass for support in foreign countries, particularly against the backdrop of the introduction of more stringent travel regulations by many foreign countries?"

DFP added that it would participate in the 2008 elections and all future elections whether ROPAA was implemented or not. "We will continue to participate in deliberations intended to improve upon the implementation of ROPAA," it added.