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Opinions of Friday, 28 October 2016

Columnist: Kwabena Amankwah

Doing the right thing to ensure free, fair elections

Until yesterday’s declaration by the Supreme Court, the CI 94 which governs the December 7 elections did not have any provision for party agents to be issued with copies of the results Collation Sheets at the constituency level. There was even no provision for the returning officer and agents of the parties to sign that vital document.

This was the path the nation traversed in 2012. And issues surrounding the dispute over the election had to be settled in court, where it became evident that, that aspect of the law was unproductive and therefore did not ensure transparency and ultimate credibility of the process.

Indeed, CI 94 was meant to deal with the flaws in the previous law (CI 74), as exposed in the 2013 election petition. The Electoral Reforms Committee, accordingly, made a recommendation to that effect. But, for whatever reasons, the EC did not heed the recommendation to cure that inherent problem in the new in the previous CI.

Unquestionably, the December 7 election is a cliffhanger, with the stakes very high. Coupled with this is the numerous hot spots identified across the country, as captured in the latest report of WANEP.

It is therefore incumbent on the EC to use every opportunity to ensure absolute transparency in the whole electoral process; but, rather disappointingly, that appears not to be the case. For if the EC was minded by that, it would not wait for the Supreme Court to come in before implementing that important recommendation from Electoral Reforms Committee.

This is what necessitated the legal action by a lawyer and former director of research of Ghana’s parliament, Nyame-Tease Eshun, to file a writ at the Supreme Court, seeking to compel the EC to be more transparent with the process of results collation.

And sitting yesterday, the Supreme Court ordered the Electoral Commission to make collation sheets for presidential elections available to parties and their agents after counting of polls.

The Supreme Court showed the EC how to be more transparent with election results collation when the seven-member panel directed the commission to confer with lawyers for the plaintiff to rectify the anomaly identified in the CI 94.

We are happy the parties quickly complied and drafted some new regulations to cure the loopholes thereof.

Consequently, this ruling by the apex court of the land, in the view of the Daily Statesman, is very much in the right direction.

And as stated above, this year’s election is a watershed one and therefore no room of doubt must be left in the minds of any of the stakeholders.

It is for this same reason that we also call on the security agencies to be fair and firm in the discharge of their duties. Cases of lawlessness by members of any political party must be tackled with utmost professionalism and demonstrable impartiality so that the results will be accepted by all, for our dear country to continue being peaceful to enable Ghanaians go about their normal lawful duties.

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