Politics of Sunday, 13 April 2014

Source: GNA

EC says District Assembly Election remains non-partisan

The Electoral Commission (EC) on Friday, warned political parties to refrain from supporting candidates contesting the District Assembly Elections.

It emphasised that the District Assembly Elections remained non-partisan and political parties which support candidates in one way or the other breached the District Assembly Act 1997 (Act 473).

They are liable to a GHc500 fine and other penalties.

Mr. Ebenezer Aggrey-Fynn, Commission Member in-charge of Brong-Ahafo gave the warning at a consultative forum on Public Elections Regulations at Abesim, near Sunyani.

The Brong-Ahafo Regional consultative forum was organised by the EC in collaboration with KAB Governance Consult and aimed at sensitising participants on the Public Elections Regulations (C.I. 75).

Mr. Aggrey-Fynn emphasised that any candidate who would also be caught obtaining support from political parties would be banned from contesting the elections for specific years.

He explained that all these and a number of measures have been put in place to ensure and promote a level playing field for all contestants.

Mr. Aggrey-Fynn observed with regret some political parties sponsoring people to contest the assembly elections contrary to the district assembly concept and as a result, gradually making the concept to lose its merit.

He reiterated the importance to put in place other austerity and pragmatic measures to, especially, deter political parties from interfering in the District Assembly elections.

Mr. Isaac Kofi Asomaning, Director, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation at the EC, emphasized that the commission had always sought to adopt strategies that would enhance its performance; adding that, in the organisation of elections, it is important that a level playing field is created so as to guarantee the integrity of the election.

He emphasised that public elections in Ghana are regulated by the Constitution, Legislative and Constitutional Instruments.

“The constitution sets out the broad parameters whilst the Legislative or Constitutional Instruments deal with the specifics,” Mr. Asomaning explained; adding, until 2012, the C.I. 15, Public Elections Regulations 1996 had been the main legal document used in the conduct of all elections.

However, in 2012, a new legal document, C.I. 75 to Public Elections Regulations, 2012 was enacted to replace C.I. 15, he said.

Mr. Asomaning explained that the introduction of the Biometric Verification Device (BVD) led to the replacement of the C.I. 15, Public Elections Regulations of 1996 with the C.I. 75; thus serving as the new constitutional instrument used to conduct the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.

He was, however, quick to add that many essential sections of the C.I. 15, especially those that had to do with the appointment of Returning Officers, issuance of writs of elections, notice of elections, nominations of candidates among others, were maintained in the new C.I. 75.

Mr. Asomaning mentioned identification and verification processes, as well as special and proxy voting, as some of the technical challenges the EC encountered in the implementation of the C.I. 75 in the 2012 Presidential and Parliamentary elections.