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Opinions of Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Columnist: Amankwah, Kwabena

We hope Charlotte Osei and her EC listen to Kufuor's wise counsel

The public image and credibility of Ghana's Electoral Commission suffered what Abdul Kwaku Baako Jnr, Editor-in-Chief of the New Crusading Guide, will describe as 'fatal injury' during the 2012 Presidential Election Petition trial at the apex court of the land, the Supreme Court.

The trial exposed the extremely bizarre things that took place as far as the conduct of the previous election was concerned, leaving many people with serious doubts about the outcome of the elections, as declared by the then boss of the commission, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan.

Even the affirmation of the outcome in favour of President John Dramani Mahama by the Supreme Court was not enough to alter the serious doubts many people had about the credibility of the elections.

The EC is at the very heart of the nation's democratic experiment. And coming from outside to head such a critical institution, carrying an unfortunate baggage of such level of credibility crisis, one would have expected Mrs Charlotte Osei to go every extent to rebuild public trust in the commission. That would have been her topmost priority.
But, it looks like the woman who is largely seen as not possessing the kind of competence and right attitude required for the office she now finds herself is 'determined' to even chip away the jot of trust she came to meet at the EC.
Even though many Ghanaians, especially members of the opposition, continue to question her sense of fairness and neutrality in handling the affairs of the EC, Mrs Charlotte Osei still appears to think that it makes no sense to amend her ways to regain some amount of trust from the public.

Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, former Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, and others will not be wrong to think that the EC boss "has not acted in a way that chimes with the sincere intentions of an independent, impartial umpire" as far as her conduct, so far, is concerned.

Indeed, her attitude to the agitations for a new voters' register to replace the incurably flawed 2012 register upon which President Mahama was declared the winner of the previous election was even enough to convince many people that she was in cahoots with the NDC.

Having sided with President Mahama and the NDC to jettison the idea of compiling a new register, Charlotte is still not ready to do a validation of the existing register to ensure that all the names found in the register represent genuine and existing voters, as recommended by her own 5-member panel.
And what could be the reason other than a dogged determination to protect some 'ghost votes' that could be credited to President Mahama and the NDC through manipulation of the electoral process?
It indeed sounded very comical when the EC boss argued against the idea of compiling a new register on grounds that the exercise would open up 30,000 conflict zones in the country, creating the impression that she was concerned about the peace and stability of the nation.

Well, we want to draw Madam Charlotte Osei's attention to the fact that if she is really interested in the peace of the country, then she must rather be very worried about her own conduct, which is gradually preparing the grounds to send Ghana on a slippery path of political turmoil.

We wish she will listen to the wise counsel from former President John Agyekum Kufuor, who has called on her and the entire EC to be truly independent in the discharge of their mandate as a referee in the November 7 polls.

At this stage in her professional life, the best of advice Charlotte Osei can get from anybody who wishes her well is what the former president is asking her to do: to be guided by truth, patriotism and the fear of God, to ensure a peaceful election, bearing in mind that she is a citizen as well as employee who is accountable to the country and the people.