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Opinions of Monday, 7 November 2016

Columnist: Emmanuel Kwame Amoh

Today would have been 2016 election day

By Emmanuel Kwame Amoh

But for a Parliamentary decision on Thursday, July 21, this year’s elections would have been held today, November 7, 2016. All parties had been unanimous in backing the Electoral Commission, Ghana’s proposal to have elections on the first Monday of November in every election year. The Attorney General and Minister of Justice had filed the Constitutional Amendment Bill to have the Commission’s proposal gazetted.

But the Bill failed to have two-thirds of the House’s votes in its favour as per Article 291(3) to have passed as law. On the voting day, done secretly, 125 Members – most of whom are of the Majority – voted in favour of the Bill while 95 voted against it. 185 members of Parliament (MPs) were needed to have the Bill passed into law. Therefore, the long-held conviction by all and sundry that this year’s elections will be held on November 7 was quashed.

The major player, EC, appeared nonchalant with the decision, issuing a statement to thank the Speaker of Parliament, Attorney General and MPs for their efforts. It said it had been ready for the polls should it have been held on November 7. “As an institution mandated to run elections in Ghana, we have been ready for the November 7 elections if the Amendment Bill had been approved by parliament,” a statement signed on Monday, July 22 by Eric Kofi Dzakpasu, the Head of Communications at the EC, said.

But recent development as regards legal suits against the Commission gives dissentients to the November 7 date cause to be proud of their stance. The abundance of suits against the Commission caused it to even miss some of the hearings in court.

Chair of the Commission Charlotte Osei, however, maintains the country’s elections management body is ready for the polls with 30 days more to go. “Ghana is set. Elections are going to be very transparent, very inclusive, very credible and there is lots of integrity mechanisms in our system to ensure that what people of Ghana put in the ballot box is what the Electoral Commission is going to declare as results.”

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