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Politics of Saturday, 9 May 2015

Source: Starrfmonline.com

EC needs a new competent chair - CFI

The Civic Forum Initiative, a civil society organization, has called on the government to ensure that a competent electoral commissioner is appointed to replace outgoing Kwadwo Afari-Gyan.

Dr. Afari-Gyan, who has headed the Electoral Commission since 1993 and overseen five general elections, is set to retire in June this year.

Several names have popped up as likely replacement for Afari-Gyan including, Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director of the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG).

In a statement, the Civic Forum Initiative said regarding the “highly polarised situation that we find ourselves in it is important that the process is made open and transparent”.

Below is the full statement for CFI

EC needs competent chair and timely financing – CFI

Since it became clear and certain that the current Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Dr Kwadjo Afari Djan would be retiring in June this year (2015) there has been a lot of public speculation and discussion about his replacement.

In the discussions some have emphasised the values and attributes of an EC Chairman. Others have even gone further to mention particular individuals they consider suitable for the position.

A third strand in the discourse had called attention to be paid to the mode of selection stressing that it had to be open and transparent.

This is happening because of what we as a country have experienced in recent months starting from the management of the 2012 elections followed by the revelations that came out of the proceedings of the eight month long petition in the Supreme Court ending with the inability of the EC to organise the 2014 District Level Elections.

These events have revealed certain weaknesses in the electoral management system and have also led to the erosion of public confidence in the institution hence the calls for electoral reforms.

The Civic Forum Initiative (CFI) has followed with keen interest these ongoing public discussions and wishes to make the following observations:

a. A new Chairperson of the EC will be faced with managing a leadership transition, as Dr. Afari Gyan proceeds on leave prior to his retirement after 23 years as the head of that institution and two important statutory and complex elections at the local and national levels by December 2016. b. Unlike the past when the Electoral Commission had a two year interval to organize presidential and parliamentary elections after the mid-term district level elections, this time around, the Electoral Commission has a shorter time to do this. The fallout from the closeness of the district level and national level elections will be the intensification of the politicisation and polarisation of the nation around election management issues. c. Even in good times Governments had always found it difficult in releasing monies for the EC’s programmes in a timely manner. Therefore in these austere periods of resource constraints, adequate financing for the Commission may be a serious problem. d. Additionally we note that there is a general lack of trust and confidence in the process of appointing the new EC.

In the view of the CFI these problems could be best managed if:

• The person appointed as Chair of the EC does not only have proven competence for the job but is also seen as capable of dealing with these institutional problems effectively.

• Given the highly polarised situation that we find ourselves in it is important that the process is made open and transparent. Therefore we urge the Council of State to do so in the supreme interest of the nation.

• Finally we call on the Government to ensure that the EC is adequately and timeously financed to discharge its constitutional functions effectively.

MAJOR GENERAL NC COLEMAN

CHAIRMAN, CIVIC FORUM INITIATIVE