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General News of Monday, 2 July 2018


It's time to set term limits for Electoral Commissioners - Kwesi Jonah

A senior research fellow at the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) has proposed a review of the current constitutional arrangement which gives the Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC) an open-ended security of tenure.

Dr Kwesi Jonah said the country must begin to consider term limits for the EC boss.

Speaking on JOYFM’s Ghana Connect programme, he said it is time to consider a new manner of appointing an EC chairperson.

“There are different ways of constituting electoral commissioner around the world, for example, govt can indicate in the legislation the involvement of very powerful national civil society organisations that nominate the candidates,” he said.

According to him, this will put the appointment beyond governments ability to manipulate as the Christian Council, Muslim Council organisations their likes will handle nominations for the president to take the final decision.

Alternatively, Dr Jonah believes Ghana can choose the technocratic option by appointing commissioners based on their professional qualifications in relation to their role at the Commission.

“That way you can have a lawyer, surveyor/geographer and their likes serving in their professional capacities which the president cannot do much about. Let us monitor the various models in the world and chose which one serves out purpose best so the president does not have much influence,” he suggested.

His comment follows the removal of EC boss Charlotte Osei and her two deputies for what government describes as stated misbehaviour and incompetence.

The move has been condemned by the opposition NDC which says Mrs Osei's removal is politically motivated.

But Dr Jonah argues it is time to consider a term limit for the commissioners.

"I am sure that if Mrs Osei had a certain term, people will probably wait until her time was up to leave office. It is good for them to know they cannot be there until their retirement," he said.

Dr Jonah disclosed that President Akufo-Addo will be electing a new set of commissioners as five of the current commissioners will attain retirement age before the 2020 election.

He believes the president’s appointment will witness another political circus where the nominations will be opposed by other political parties, civil society groups and other influential individuals which setting a term limit can prevent.