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Opinions of Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Columnist: Graphic.com.gh

Resolving the fight over voters register

Almost all countries of the world are gravitating towards one form of democracy or another. The only difference is that the countries sometimes take divergent pathways to democracy.

The tenets of democratic governance are better served when politicians are allowed to form political parties or join associations that promote beliefs that sit with their own persuasions.

In the wake of the democratic wave that swept through Africa in the 1990’s even donor countries made the return to democratic rule the condition for the granting of loans to nations in transition.

Some political observers attribute the sharp shift from military dictatorships to multi-party democracy on the African continent to the brakes applied to aid to countries that refuse to adopt multi-party rule.

It is not enough to have a semblance of multi-party rule without the key drivers that provide the necessary lubricants for democratic governance to thrive.

These drivers include the enabling environment for the people who think alike to form political parties to prosecute the agenda of seeking the people’s mandate to govern.

There must also be the opportunity for people to exercise their franchise freely to chose their representatives during regular elections, the promotion of separation of powers, rule of law and a vibrant media landscape.

It is a matter of fact that all these ingredients cannot make democracy more enduring if there are no strong institutions to give meaning to the ethos of good governance.

Luckily, the framers of our Constitution established institutions to regulate democratic practice in the country. After all, democracy is not only a number game, it is also about rules.

Thus, the Electoral Commission (EC) was established to regulate the conduct of elections in the country.

Unfortunately, the level of mistrust that exists between the EC and the political players has made it difficult for the EC to operate without bottlenecks, especially in an election year.

We are worried about the perception that the EC is always in bed with the ruling party while the opposition parties see the EC as working against their interests.

The Daily Graphic thinks that in the interest of free and fair polls in the country, the EC should do something urgent to build trust between it and all the political parties and their supporters.

It is easy to dismiss this assertion but the perception exists among the people and it serves the EC better if, as a nation, we build a strong bond of collaboration between the EC and all the political stakeholders.

We acknowledge the independence of the EC, but as a creation of the Constitution and the fact that the people are sovereign, the actions of the EC must always seek to promote the public good.

The Daily Graphic will be the last to support any move to stampede the EC in the discharge of its duties. However, the EC cannot operate as an island oblivious of the concerns of the electorate.

It is for this reason that the Daily Graphic appeals to all the political parties to co-operate with the EC to put in place a credible voters register that will be acceptable to all.

And, more importantly, whatever voters register that is compiled for Election 2016 must advance the cause of democratic rule and improve our credentials as the beacon of hope in Africa.