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General News of Monday, 15 August 2016


EC’s reforms will ensure credible elections – Dr. Chambas

The United Nations’ Secretary-General Representative in West Africa and the Sahel, Dr. Mohammed Ibn Chambas, has expressed confidence in the Electoral Commission (EC) ability to the conduct a free and credible election.

Dr. Ibn Chambas’ confidence in the EC’s ability to ensure credible elections is anchored in the recent reforms being implemented by the commission.

Addressing a news conference in Accra after leading a delegation to Ghana to observe the country’s preparedness for the election Dr. Ibn Chambas endorsed the EC’s preparation towards the December polls as meeting international standards.

He said his mission had “ noted the positive reforms being implemented by the Electoral Commission to further strengthen the electoral process.”

Dr. Ibn Chambas praised these reforms saying they “will enhance the ability of the Commission to conduct transparent and fair elections meeting good practices in the sub-region.”

What are some of these reforms?

The EC had proposed over 20 reforms as a by-product of the special reform committee it set up after the 2012 election petition.

A total of 27 reform proposals were accepted internally and processes to implement them were initiated.

But a bill for a key reform to amend Article 112 of the country’s 1992 constitution pushing a switch in the Presidential and Parliamentary elections day from December 7 to the first Monday in November, fell short in Parliament.

Among other reforms that were successfully implemented was the mandate to carry out continuous registration of eligible persons as well as periodic registrations.

Election officers and party agents will also now be required to take oaths before a Magistrate or Judicial officer instead of an officer of the Commission.

Other successful reforms included the use of the Biometric Verification Device for the exhibition of the Provisional Voters Register, the raising of the minimum educational qualification for various levels of election officials and the setting of a National Collation Centre to replace the Strong Room.

As far as transparency is concerned, the EC will also be publishing the Presidential Election Results per polling station on its website, among others.

Controversy over e-transmission reform

However, the proposed Electronic Results Transmission System (ERTS), another key reform, has been the subject of recent controversy.

The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) kicked against the ERTS arguing that the e-transmission process fails to address the critical challenges that the election reform process seeks to overcome and that there is no law which gives the EC the power to electronically transfer results.

Other critics believe outsourcing the ERTS to third parties will be a waste of resources as the EC is already known to fax results and could scale up that process to replicate the intended goals of the ERTS.

Nonetheless, the EC has begun processes for the implementation of the ERTS ahead the 2016 general election with two companies, Scytl and Smartmatic shortlisted to demonstrate their capabilities to electronically transmit results in the polls.