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Politics of Tuesday, 9 December 2003

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230 MPs in 2004 ?

The Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, told an Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) that about 30 additional constituencies may be created to bring the total number of constituencies to 230.

He said the voters registration exercise would come off early next year, probably January, 2004.

Meanwhile, The EC has set up a procurement committee which has completed the evaluation of bids for the procurement of electoral materials for the voter registration exercise and the subsequent general election next year. The committee has a representative each from the donor community and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.

The setting up of the procurement committee is in conformity with Act 451 of the Constitution which permits the formation of such a committee, to be chaired by a member of the commission. The formation of the committee recently generated a controversy when the EC subtly protested against the manner the government went about it with regard to its composition.

At an Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting held on October 16, this year, the EC proposed the setting up of a six-member committee comprising two representatives of the EC, one of whom would be the chairman, two political party representatives, one from the government party and one from an opposition party, one representative from the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and one representative from the donor community who would act as an expert or consultant.

But representatives of the political parties at the said meeting declined to serve on the committee proposed by the EC for some reasons. They were of the view that there had not been any indication of malfeasance on the part of the EC to suggest that the commission was incompetent and inefficient in handling the procurement of electoral materials and that the commission should be allowed to take responsibility for its actions.

The parties also felt that no situation should be created to enable the EC find scapegoats if something went wrong. The political parties, however, indicated that a systematic channelling of information to the parties on distribution of electoral items procured would be enough.

It was agreed at the meeting that once the IPAC is informed of the process of procurement and items of deliveries the feat of political parties would be allayed and their interest secured.

The parties again suggested that instead of their participation in a procurement committee, the commission should, instead, put in place a five-member committee made up of three EC representatives and two others from the donor community.