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Opinions of Wednesday, 10 May 2006

Columnist: Amonu, Kofi

I Oppose ROPAB

I have listened to several arguments for and against ROPAB, given it some thought, and finally concluded that I am vehemently opposed to it from a constitutional standpoint.

Advocates and supporters of the bill support their argument on the fact that Diasporan Ghanaians are citizens who contribute immensely to the economy and therefore must have a say in Ghana's political affairs. I will not argue about the issue of contribution to the economy and direct or indirect tax payment because they are not prerequisites for the right to vote. If the contribution reasoning is acceptable, then we should be prepared to listen to the opposite reasoning as an argument to deny someone his voting rights. Someone may argue based on the same reasoning that if a citizen is extremely poor, fully illiterate, never been employed and doesn't contributed a penny to the economy why must a vote from such a person be counted?

The criteria we ought to consider are being a Ghanaian of sound mind and voting age. The essence of voting is to choose a candidate from one's constituency to represent that constituency in parliament. Therefore, the question we should try to answer is if a registered voter relocates to another constituency does he loose the old constituency and assume the new one?

This may be a question for the Supreme Court but my personal answer is yes. I say yes because your constituency is where you live, benefit from amenities therein, know and care about most. It is for this reason that you cannot contest for a seat outside your constituency. If the Supreme Court's definition of constituency is significantly different from mine, I would ask them to show me the constituency of a person of voting age and Ghanaian parentage who was borne outside Ghana and has never set foot in the Ghana.

Diasporan Ghanaians, of which I am one, have no constituency in Ghana and no representation in parliament to vote for. It will be fraudulent for a Diasporan Ghanaian to visit home and pretend to be a permanent resident of Ghana for the privilege to register as a voter or vote. To me once you leave Ghana permanently and resettle outside, you part with your constituency and consequently your right to vote. This is especially true if you give up your Ghanaian citizenship and acquire one from a country that has no dual citizenship agreement with Ghana. It is deceitful, unlawful and even ridiculous to vote in a country that you need a visa to enter.

Folks, no matter how much we contribute to the economy we cannot have our cake and it too. There is no monetary price on voting rites.

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