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Opinions of Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Columnist: Abdulai, Alhaji Alhasan

Submit petitions to EC peacefully: don’t picket

A strategy that is fast gaining grounds in Ghana is picketing and demonstration by workers and now political groups to enforce their demands.

In recent times, workers including professionals like doctors, nurses and teachers have taken to the streets to force the government to implement salaries and service conditions agreed with their employers.

All those groups (believing that demonstration is the only language governments understand) have succeeded wholly or partly in all they asked for. The actions by workers to force the hand of government are costly as government loses revenue as a result. This has led to government issuing an order to workers to desist from strikes and demonstration or lose their salaries for they days they refuse to work.

However while the struggles by the workers is based on collective agreements that require implementation by government the true motive behind picketing and demonstration by Let My Vote Count (LMVC) and other civil society organizations to seek the replacement of the voters register seems doubtful.

It is generally agreed by most people in Ghana that the current voters register has many flaws in it that include registration by minors mentioned by the former Electoral Commissioner Dr Aferi Djan and alleged registration by non-Ghanaians and forged numbers of voters overseas.

To this end, The New patriotic party has called for the replacement of the voters register to ensure the cleaning of the register once and for all. However, the arguments being made by the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and its supporters is that the compilation of a new register would not be the only means of ensuring a clean register.

They are simply opposed to the campaign being waged by the NPP for the cancellation of the current register for a new one. Apart from the NDC the Progressive Peoples Party ( PPP) would like to have the Electoral Commission base the new voters register on a credible national identity card (whose compilation has been truncated ) to ensure that all those to be registered would be Ghanaians. But this exercise would take some time to implement perhaps beyond next year’s election.

Apart from the PNC whose General Secretary does not agree with the position of NPP but also has its views on the issue of voters register some civil society organizations such as Institute Of Democratic Governance (IDEG) have offered their views publicly on this issue with IDEG suggesting the formation of a neutral body to look into the issue of the voters register.

In view of the various positions taken by political parties and civil society organizations the Electoral commission requested all the political parties to submit their views on the voters register to them by September 22 for consideration. This would be followed by a consultative forum involving all parties to determine the action to be taken on the issue.

Since Let My Vote Count is not the only body concerned with issues of the voters register but means Ghana well and wish to have a credible register they must not continue with the picketing and demonstrations before handing over their resolution and petitions on the voters register to the Electoral Commission.

Picketing that can put the lives of their members in danger is not the only way to go with regard to the fight for a new voters register. I am not happy about the confrontation this organization (LMVC) had with the police force which brutalized their members and other people who were picketing close to the Electoral Commission.

The police also argued that the demonstrators were restrained with a minimum force because they intended to deviate from the course agreed upon with the demonstrators. My suggestion to LMVC is that you must submit your proposals on the voters register to the Electoral Commission and wait for their response.

Don’t be a law unto yourselves. If all the political parties and civil society organizations decide to go on demonstrations on voters register we would not have space in Accra for other activities. Because the NDC supporter once rushed to the Electoral Commission in 2008 does not warrant NPP supporters and LMVC do the same today.

That was a wrong move that was condemned what is not right yesterday is not right today On the other hand, the electoral commission must not be quiet on this issue.

Please! Please! MRS charlotte Osei, Electoral Commissioner, do well to make a statement as a mother, pleading with LMVC to submit their petitions and resolutions peacefully as others did and rest assured for your quick response together with other petitions sent to you.



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