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Opinions of Saturday, 17 October 2015

Columnist: Daily Guide

Electoral Commissioner's limitations

The demand for a credible voter register received an unusual impetus when the former first couple threw their weight behind it last Wednesday.

While former President Jerry John Rawlings’ intervention when a delegation of the Let My Vote Count Alliance called on him was diplomatic, his spouse, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, took a different turn.

The subject could not have been better dealt with than the former first lady’s treatment. Until her brusque statement that it is not for Charlotte Osei to determine whether Ghanaians require a replaced voter register or not, nobody had told the lady so, allowing her to exaggerate her powers.

The Electoral Commission (EC) which she heads serves the needs of Ghanaians and does only; she does not have the power to impose on us what we do not want. That was what Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings said; and the timing could not be faulted, coming at a time when there is growing pressure for the electoral roll to be changed.

Given the contamination of the register, there is no way it can be used to run a clean election, the results of which would not be contested. That is the fact of the matter.

Charlotte was not appointed to lord it over Ghanaians – a kind of dictator whose proclivity for overstretching the independence of the commission is glaring. We must get this independence attribute of the EC right lest we allow the Commissioner a power which rests only with Ghanaians.

Her body language since the agitations for a replacement of the voter register began has a touch of arrogance and an undisputable misunderstanding of the independence of the EC.

As Jerry John Rawlings observed, and rightly, there is tension in the country – a situation which can be managed only when a credible register is given to Ghanaians. If Charlotte and those encouraging her to put up the intransigence do not see it that way they would be dangerously myopic in their observations of developments.

It is shameful that at a time when there is visible momentum for the replacement of the register, a transfer of votes is about to be mounted. We wonder what sense there is in such a move when the register being used is flawed and lacks deference and credibility.

It is also becoming clear that Charlotte seeks to toy with Ghanaians. Otherwise what is this nonsense of hosting a forum on the register even after the collection of the concerns of political parties?

We have no time to waste and the earlier we got working towards the new register the better it would be for us all. To dilly-dally the way the EC Chairperson is doing would not achieve anything positive.

Without a new voter register next year’s polls would be denied the legitimacy that such an important democratic landmark requires and the country would be the loser.

What should a sitting government fear about the replacement of a voter register? The phobia for the replacement presupposes that there is something about the current one which inures to the rigging programme of some interested persons or groupings.

Simple logic such as the fact that there are thousands of persons who were registered to vote using the National Health Insurance Scheme card, a Supreme Court-outlawed requisite, shows that the register lacks legitimacy.

Going to border areas to register people, mostly foreigners, for the NHIS which were eventually used for the purpose of registering voters for our elections is foul.

No, we cannot use this discredited register for elections.