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Opinions of Thursday, 29 October 2015

Columnist: Kennett, Korankyi

The EC’s ‘public hearing’ on the electoral register should be boycotted


PRESS RELEASE; the electoral commission’s ‘public hearing’ on the electoral register should be boycotted BY ALL TRUE PATRIOTS

1. The Electoral Commission last week announced that it was going to conduct a public hearing into suggestions that the Voters Register should be replaced. The Electoral Commission made the announcement last week through Mr. Christian Owusu-Parry, Ag. Director – Public Affairs of the Commission.

2. Since the announcement, there have been myriad reactions to the composition of the panel set up for the conduct of the public hearing, and the rationale for the public hearing.

3. The Coalition for Free, Fair and Transparent Elections (COFFTRE) has reason to wonder as to the true rationale behind this announcement of a public hearing. However, what we can say with authority is that the move is just one more demonstration of the true nature of our Electoral Commission as irresponsible, unaccountable and an organization that has complete and utter contempt for the people of Ghana.
4. At the end of the Election Petition hearing in the third quarter of 2013, the Supreme Court of Ghana ordered the Electoral Commission to embark on a series of reforms to ensure that Ghana and Ghanaians do not experience the horrors of 2012 and 2013. One of the issues on which the Supreme Court called for reform was the voters’ register. As of today, the Electoral Commission has treated that edict by the Supreme Court with absolute contempt. This is in spite of the fact that the conduct of Election 2012 was fraught with anomalies, many of them criminal and unlawful. The Electoral Commission could not account for a single item of logistics employed in the conduct of Election 2012. It could not tell us how many ballot papers it printed. It could not tell us how many pink sheets it printed. It could not account for the ballot papers it used and it could not account for the pink sheets it distributed as well as the collation centre results sheets it employed. It resisted the production of collation centre results sheets and polling station pink sheets, yet wanted Ghanaians to accept the results declared on these polling station statements of record and collation centre results sheets. The Electoral Commission registered over four hundred thousand people it could not account for, yet, in the face of all these anomalies and out of all this garbage, the Electoral Commission was able to declare a President. When the Electoral Commission was dragged to court, for the first time in judicial history in probably Ghana, West Africa, Africa and possibly the world, there was over-voting in a Supreme Court. At one point, nine judges were able to cast ten votes. Out of all this manure a President was declared.
5. One would have thought that the painful experiences of Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan in the Supreme Court would have advised the Electoral Commission to amend its ways, but the elders were right when they said proverbially that the animal can never change its nature. The Electoral Commission of Ghana has developed a culture of impunity and total disregard for Ghanaians and institutions of this country that is truly intriguing as it is fascinating and frightening. The officials of the EC seem to think that they live in a world of their own. They seem to forget that they share the same streets, hospitals, schools and markets with the rest of us.
6. On 18th August 2015 the New Patriotic Party (NPP) officially complained, with evidence, to the EC that some people had registered to vote in Ghana and had also registered to vote in other countries. The proper thing that the Electoral Commission should have done, was evaluate the evidence and tell us whether the assertions from the NPP had merit or not. The EC could have submitted what was given to them to the other political parties for advice. What the EC chose to do was call on the political parties, the NPP inclusive, to submit memoranda to it, as if the veracity, the rightness or wrongness of the evidence submitted to it by the NPP could be ascertained by a mere poll of opinion of the political parties. To repeat, are there foreigners on our register or not? That was the simple and honest question that the EC was supposed to answer. In response, it has waddled and weaved, dodged and heaved, prevaricated, procrastinated, and obfuscated. It is all too clear that the EC is not prepared to confront the issue; is the voter register bloated with the names of foreigners or not? And what, exactly should be done about this issue?
7. When the EC was announcing the decision to conduct a public hearing, it also announced that it was contracting an IT firm to audit the register? Key questions arise from this position; how, exactly, would be the audit conducted? Who would conduct the audit? What happens after the audit? How would the findings of the audit be married to the public forum coming off this week? These are begging questions crying for answers. And until the EC delivers clear answers on these questions, its prevarication and obfuscation should not be tolerated. It is a waste of our time the time of Ghanaians.
8. In the light of the foregoing, we call on all political parties, civil society groups and the general public to boycott the program fixed for Thursday and Friday at the Alisa Hotel. For far too long, the Electoral Commission has behaved as if it is an unaccountable organization, and it must be borne home to them clearly that the people of Ghana would not accept this state of affairs for any longer!

Kenneth Agyei Kuranchie, National President, COFFTRE
Mohammed Mumuni, National Organizer, COFFTRE
Micheal Ohene, Deputy National Secretary, COFFTRE