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General News of Thursday, 10 November 2016

Source: Myjoyonline.com

EC's ballot recount decision act of illegality – Mike Oquaye

A former Deputy Speaker of Parliament says the decision by the Electoral Commission (EC) to recount the presidential ballot if the results are close would be a lawless act.

Professor Mike Oquaye says the C.I.94, the law governing the 2016 general elections, does not sanction such a decision and has urged the EC to drop the idea forthright.

“The conduct of the election shall be regulated by law [and] the EC cannot operate outside the parameters of the law otherwise it would be a recipe for constitutional crisis,” he said.

Speaking to Raymond Acquah, host of Joy FM’s Top Story programme Thursday, Prof. Ocquaye said the Commission has to be careful not to engage in acts that flout the Constitution.

EC boss, Charlotte Osei had disclosed during an interview with BBC’s Akwasi Sarpong that the Commission would order a recount of the presidential ballot if the results were close.

She came under intense criticism by sections of Ghanaians who believe the decision was not in sync with conventions in the country.

The EC Chairperson reiterated the decision when she addressed section of the media at an Editors’ Forum in Accra, Thursday.

She explained that as part of international practice, when an election is too close, it is important to call for a ballot recount to safeguard the results.
This, she said forms part of the discretionary powers the Returning Officer enjoys under the law.

“It is better to be safer than sorry,” she said adding, the Commission does not understand why such a noble idea has generated debate in the country.

But the Chairman of Legal and Constitutional Committee of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) has said the Commission might be inviting needless lawsuits if it goes ahead with the decision.

Prof Ocquaye said the C.I.94 which is in possession of all the political parties has clearly stipulated conditions under a ballot can be ordered and persons who are entitled to do so and the Commission is not one of them.

“C.I.94 Regulation 38 sub-regulation (4) says the Candidate himself or a representative may ask for a recount of the ballot papers at a polling station," he said, a second recount could be demanded if the candidate is dissatisfied with the first count.

He explained the second recount could be done after the Returning Officer has sanctioned it and it would be done at the Constituency Collation Center.

"The EC boss cannot by herself recount the ballot else it would be an act of illegality," he said, adding, the essence of the C.I.94 is to guard against actions that would not protect the integrity of the elections.

Progressive People's Party (PPP) Policy Advisor, Kofi Asamoah cautioned the Commission to be wary of the way it is handling processes of the December 7 polls.

He was emphatic that, "Everything that the EC wants to do must be backed by regulations passed by Parliament and what the constitution says."
He claimed the Commission's decision smacks of a deliberate attempt to favor some candidates in the polls.

"First of all we don't have a definition of closeness," Mr Asamoah said, adding the EC must not exercise a discretionary power it does not have.