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General News of Wednesday, 26 July 2017


I am not the entire commission; I am speaking for myself - EC chair tells Parliament

A suggestion by the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission that she was speaking for herself and not the entire Commission in an answer to a question by a Majority Leader of Parliament has sent tongues wagging.

A member of the Majority in Parliament Eugene Antwi has described the comments and conduct of Mrs Charlotte Osei as a “sad day for our democracy” but a member of the NDC and MP for Adaklo insists the criticisms against the EC chair are misplaced.

Mrs Charlotte Osei was invited to Parliament as the chair of the EC to answer why internally generated funds, particularly, funds generated from accreditation fees charged journalists in the 2016 elections were not included in the 2017 budget statement and financial report for 2017.

She told Parliament the IGF was not added because it was an “oversight.”

Not impressed with the oversight comment, the Majority Leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu probed further from the EC boss to find out when exactly she realised the IGF had been omitted.

According to her, she only got to know about the omission when she was invited by Parliament in March to come and answer why the IGF was not included in the budget for 2017.

She said it was when she checked the EC accounts that she found the omission.

“Otherwise you were not going to discover [that the IGF has been omitted],” Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu queried further, forcing Mrs Osei to say “Mr chairman I am not the entire commission. There are other people who work on these things. I am speaking for myself as chair.”

Her answer with triggered a sudden outburst from MPs.

In a bid to clarify her earlier comments the EC boss said she was yet to speak to the officers who were in charge of the accounts, an answer that may have exposed the deeply seated rifts at the Commission.

The Commission has made the headlines over the last few days with the three Commissioners playing lead roles in a war of words and statement, all of which were triggered by a 27-point petition pregnant with allegation against the EC chair.

The Majority in Parliament is not happy with the responses of Mrs Charlotte Osei.

Eugene Antwi, MP for Subin, whose urgent question dragged the EC chair before Parliament said the “conduct or misconduct” by the Commissioner was disheartening.

“Her body language was an eye saw,” he told Joy News' Evans Mensah.

He was also critical of the Chairperson’s comment about oversight saying, the EC cannot collect monies from journalists and other Ghanaians which amounted to over 2 million cedis only to come before Parliament and tell MPs stories about oversight.

“How can you submit a budget without the IGF, and have the audacity to appear before us and talk about oversight,” he stated.

He said it is either a case of “false accounting or fraud,” and criticized the NDC MP for acting like lawyers for the embattled EC boss.

But the MP for Adaklu Mr Kwame Agbodza defended the EC chair. He said the responses given to the questions asked were apt.

He said the EC chair was not brought before the House to answer for any wrong doing and described as "appalling" attempts by the NPP to find faults with the EC chair.