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Opinions of Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Columnist: Daily Guide Network

Charlotte’s non-starter

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Even before the curtains were drawn over the public forum on the voter register, skeptics had written it off as a non-starter. They appear to have gotten it right.

Charlotte Osei, chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) missed another opportunity to register an enviable impression about what she has up her sleeves; and we find that unfortunate. Women looking up to her to leave her footprints in the sand of Ghana’s political history may just have to tarry a while. Perhaps she could spring a surprise by exhibiting adequate independence of mind.

Cynics think that the signs of a good performance or play can be detected in its early stages.

Not disappointing the people of Ghana would be a better option than doing the bidding of one man or a few.

Her first public utterance was a reaction to those who demand a replacement of the voter register. That was when she described the expression by a pressure group as noise, adding that she would not be intimidated.

She had drawn the battle line and that was disappointing. Although it is impossible to get a second chance to make a first impression, we thought the rule could be varied in Charlotte’s case. She missed it again. While a few of the participants showed seriousness and understanding of the subject on the table, others were just pleasing those who sent them there.

Throwing up the idea of a public forum as a subtle means of avoiding the questions raised about the quality of the voter register by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was a smart one from the EC. We would not have had any quarrel with it had it been able to reduce the tension in the country and satisfied somewhat antagonists and protagonists of the electoral roll issue alike. On that score the EC has failed and would have to scratch its head for an answer.

There are many more Ghanaians who saw the forum as a charade intended to veneer the democratic standard of allowing all shades of ideas regarding an issue as critical as the voter register, the basis of a credible election. For this school of thought, the EC has made up its mind. Both President Mahama and Justice VCRAC Crabbe, who chaired the forum, and two others on the panel prefer cleaning to replacement of a “young voter register.”

Former first lady, Nana Kondau Agyeman-Rawlings’ bluntness on the issue made the headlines across the nation. Some parties had been bribed to toe the lines they did when they turned for the function, is her position.

A credible voter register indeed, as the Executive Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) said recently, transcends political parties. Being the reference point of any election, its sanctity must not be compromised.

Any election management body which ignores the calls for the replacement of a discredited register risks overseeing polls which outcome will be without deference, legitimacy and therefore unacceptable.

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