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General News of Monday, 29 June 2020


New registration not to disenfranchise any eligible voter – EC

Jean Adukwei Mensa, EC chair play videoJean Adukwei Mensa, EC chair

Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Ghana (EC) Jean Mensa has urged Ghanaians to disregard assertions within some quarters that the new voter registration exercise is aimed at disenfranchising a group of voters.

She insisted that the rationale behind the exercise is not to achieve anything like that.

“On the contrary, it is to ensure that all our citizens who qualify are accorded the opportunity to register and cast their votes,” Mrs Mensa said.

She was addressing journalists on the eve of the voter registration exercise.

The exercise starts at 7:00am and ends at 6:00pm each day.

It is scheduled to end on Thursday, August 6.

The Chairperson of the Commission noted that a voter register plays a significant role in elections as it is the bedrock on which credible elections rest.

The decision to compile a new register divided political parties, which form a key stakeholder group in the affairs of the Commission.

At the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) level, the political parties could not reach a consensus in identifying with the decision of the EC.

While one group led by the largest opposition party National Democratic Congress (NDC) opposed the decision, the other group led by the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) supported the move by the EC.

Civil society groups including think-tanks were also divided along similar lines with the Inter-Party Resistance Against the New Voter Register (IPRAN) founded just for the cause to resist the decision.

The matter was later taken to the Supreme Court by the NDC, which later accepted the decision of the EC to compile a new register but wanted existing voter IDs to be accepted as one of the breeder documents.

The Court gave judgement on Thursday, June 25, dismissing the applications of the NDC and one Mark Takyi-Banson, a native of Breman-Kokoso in the Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa District of the Central Region, and directed the EC to conduct the elections strictly by constitutional instrument (CI) 126.

In her address, Mrs Mensa, who is only the third head of the Commission in the Fourth Republic, said they were mindful of the significance of the decision taken to compile a new register given its importance to the conduct of elections.

“We will like to assure all of you that as a commission, our rationale for compiling a new register is not to disenfranchise any eligible voter,” she said.

Already, IPRAN has not backed down on its resistance but continues to clamour for a withdrawal of the decision irrespective of the Court’s judgement.

The Chair of the Commission, a former Executive Director of think-tank Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), stressed that their “decisions and actions are taken without fear or favour and without recourse to any individuals or group of persons”.

She said the election management body is ready for the exercise as 8,000 registration kits have been distributed while 5,000 technicians are on stand-by to help in case of any mishaps.

Mrs Mensa, therefore, said she expects a “smooth” exercise at the various centres.

The Commission has already conducted a piloting of the exercise in all regional capitals and indicated at the end that it was satisfied with it.