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Opinions of Friday, 17 June 2016

Columnist: Francis Ameyibor

Election 2016 without Afari Gyan

Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan, Former EC boss Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan, Former EC boss

Ghana goes to Election 2016 tentatively on November 7, without the usual fourth republican electoral master playmakers, Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan, the former Chairman 1993 – June 2015; Mr David Azey Adeenze-Kangah, former Deputy Chairman 1993–April 2012; Mr Kwadwo Sarfo Kantanka, former Deputy Chairman 1993–April 2013, and scores of electoral frontline officers.

The new seven-member EC team - five women and two gentlemen: Mrs Charlotte Kesson Smith Osei, appointed June 2015; Deputy Chairman in charge of Operations, Mr Sulley Amadu - May 2012; and Deputy Chairman in charge of Finance and Administration, Mrs Georgina Opoku Amankwaa - July 2013.

The other members are: Mrs Paulina Adobea Dadzawa – February 2004; Mr Ebenezer Aggrey Fynn – March 2004; Ms Sa-Adatu Maida - November 2010; and Ms Rebecca Kabukie Adjalo - November 2010.

Role of current team

The current team needs to push Ghana’s electoral credentials to the next level and demonstrate to the democratic world that Ghana and Africa have come of age in terms of democratic development.

The new team, however, needs to watch out for Electoral Cluster Bombs (ECBs), that is relentless dangerous political statements about an Electoral Management Body (EMB) with the potential of covertly or overtly derailing an electoral process and denigrating the integrity of electoral officers, leading to mass disaffection against the EMBs.

Electoral Cluster Bomb launchers, therefore, explore the vitality of mass communication means as a dispenser through capitalising on seemingly electoral infractions to attack electoral officials and other bodies considered as “enemies to the group’s electoral fortune”.

The EC must, therefore, watch the battle line for Ghana's seventh consecutive general election under the 1992 Fourth Republican Constitution, which is about 20 weeks away, since the various political parties, especially the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) have set their electoral machinery at the temperate stage for Elections 2016.

Information available to this writer indicates that political experts and electoral watchers are not comfortable with the numerous legal entanglements confronting the EC, plots by scores of political elements who have the intention of stampeding some electoral activities across the country and the EC’s apparent wavering posture.

Election 2016 offers the ground for an uncompromising electoral battle never experienced in Ghana’s political dispensation. The EC must be vigilant, firm, robust and diplomatic during its engagement with all political parties.

The EC, as the constitutional body charged with registering voters, conducting and supervising elections and with the overall responsibility of a successful electoral process, must immediately set out the rules for Election 2016 in a transparent manner.

Electoral battle ground

According to some political pundits, the two main parties — NDC and NPP — intend to use the electoral battleground to campaign for continuity or change, a situation many have classified as crucial and potentially dangerous, whilst scores of minority political parties seek to use this year’s election to claim the third force tag.

The ruling NDC and President John Dramani Mahama, who won the last elections through the eye of a needle, intend to make capital of its “Transforming Ghana Agenda” as a means to consolidate its electoral grounds and avoid the historical precedent of a one-term presidency under the Fourth Republic.

The main opposition NPP, however, seeks to redefine the fourth republican electoral parameters by ending the two-term Presidency tradition.

To the NPP and especially its flag bearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Election 2016 is very significant as any result other than victory will end his ambition to become the President of Ghana.

Nana Akufo-Addo is unlikely to be given the fourth time bid by the party after Election 2016.

Political pundits are also keenly watching developments in the Convention People’s Party (CPP) under the Chairman, Professor Edmund N. Delle, and flag bearer, Mr Ivor Kobina Greenstreet.

The People’s National Convention (PNC), under the Chairmanship of Mr Bernard Monarh, has also caught the eye of electoral watchers; whilst the activities of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), National Democratic Party (NDP), the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP) and other political parties deserve attention.

Electoral landmine

To prevent an electoral landmine, the EC’s Public Affairs Department (PAD) must be proactive in dealing with the media and develop a fast-track information dissemination mechanism to feed the media.

Other EC officials must also reduce uncoordinated public engagement with the media and allow the department to address the issues “as effective communication is a classified professional field.”

Some of the electoral challenges the commission encountered in previous elections were mainly based on poor communication by some electoral officials.

There is no doubt that the role played by the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (a non-statutory advisory body) has engendered some cordiality and diplomacy among the parties for which reason the EC must further explore and broaden the frontiers of IPAC.

The EC and political parties must take full advantage of IPAC’s two-way communication channel of information collection, use it to elicit inputs and explain important and relevant matters in a timely manner.

Both groups of players in the political field must recognise that IPAC is an advisory committee and that comments, contributions and inputs during deliberations are not binding on the EMB but may be taken into consideration with the view to reaching a consensus.

The writer is the General Coordinator, Communication for Development and Advocacy Consult.

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