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Opinions of Friday, 14 October 2011

Columnist: AFAG Ghana

The Biometric Afag State Our Case As Civil Society Towards Election 2012.

The Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) has noticed with disquiet the attitude and posture of the Electoral Commission in relation to the proposed Biometric registration and its processes as the 2012 elections are concerned.
Five successive elections to the credit of the Electoral Commission under the 4th Republican constitution is not evidence enough to talk of a trouble and violent - free elections in 2012. Indeed considering the EC’s own 2008 post election report and that of the Commonwealth Observer team, circumspection should be the watchword for all the actors, players and the referees of the political game as the year approaches.

The recent District Assembly elections which were poorly organized and thus suffered wild condemnation from a lot of contestants gives indication of the fallibility of our well respected EC. Let nobody makes a mistake about it, if it were to be the General election with such ill-preparedness no one could guarantee the peace and security of the State should suffering candidates of Political parties decide to defend their rightful votes. Ghana deserves better than that and we believe we can do better.
From the Electoral Commission’s own time table dated 22nd October 2010, we are far behind schedule with respect to every aspect of the biometric process but it is imperative to have it to avoid some of the mistakes that led to disputes or violence in nations like Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Kenya and even Togo nearby.
AFAG wishes to add her voice to the call for a verifiable biometric register. This we believe has three major causes that will result in one outstanding effect namely: Register once; Vote once; Get Counted once; RESULTS ACCEPTABLE TO ALL COMERS. Period! Anything short of this has the potential of creating some discord which consequence is highly unpredictable. That is our fear.

Our humble view, the way forward must be looking at getting the legal backing to the biometric system immediately resolved. We are happy that at last IPAC meeting a committee was to be set up in that regard. We urge the EC and the Political Parties to expedite action in the formation of that committee so that they can effectively finish their work before parliament resumes. In the same vain we call on MPs to quickly consider both the CI and LI that may come before them to save all of us any further delays.
We are aware that the EC has already awarded the contract for the exercise to STL/HSB/Genkey consortium. It is within the remit of the EC to do just that. But as Ghanaians we reserve the right to discuss any misgivings if there are any. We are aware of some technical capability issues raised about this consortium and believe that also influenced the setting up of the Technical Committee to consider the kind of equipment to be bought and effective they would be in respect of the exercise. Again we expect the political parties would expedite action in joining the EC to begin the process so it end quick and assure us of a very credible register to avoid any doubts of election results.
In our view the EC should be considering not to risk putting all our eggs in one basket. If there are other companies with more expertise in that system let them be brought in so we spread our risk and avoid getting crushed if the sole basket hits the ground. We may never be able to collect all the broken eggs.
Lastly, we think there must as many IPAC meetings as possible. The situation where the EC meets individual political parties at such a crucial time, gives room for suspicion and rumour mongering which do not augur well for consensus building and healthy competition.

It is the fervent hope, wish and aspiration that electoral Commission will do more hearing from the good people of Ghana, particularly the political parties than adopt an unwavering and non-listening attitude with no direction.