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General News of Monday, 24 December 2018

Source: citinewsroom.com

Two Ghanaians sue EC; want referendum on new regions postponed

Two Ghanaians who reside in the Kadjebi District of the Volta Region, have dragged the Electoral Commission and the Attorney General to court seeking for an injunction and a postponement of the upcoming referendum for the creation of additional regions in the country.

According to the applicants – Gabriel Aziaglo and Dan Louis Nikabo – the Electoral Commission has not been fair and transparent in its conduct prior to the referendum slated for December 27, and must be ordered to correct what they describe as such “unlawful” acts.

“…an order of interlocutory injunction restraining 1st respondent, its privies assigns, work men or however described from proceeding to hold, holding or conducting or supervising any referendum in the proposed six regions of the Republic of Ghana on Thursday, the 27th of December, 2018, pending a final determination of the suit on its merits,” the two said in their writ.

The Electoral Commission is lacing its boots to organize the referendum in some selected areas for the creation of six new regions namely: Ahafo, Bono East, Savannah, North East, Oti and Western North.
Ahead of the referendum, the Electoral Commission today, Monday, organized a special voting in the areas to be captured in the yet-to-be created regions.

For the creation of a region to take effect, there would have to be at least a 50 percent voter turnout with 80 percent of voters voting ‘yes.’

Some interested parties have also been campaigning for more people to vote in favour of the new regions.

But Gabriel and Nikabo in their writ argue that the Electoral Commission failed to publish the list of polling stations in the gazette thus violating the “applicants’ right to vote.”

They also argue that the official gazette in respect to the polling stations if it was made within a week or five days before the 27th of December, 2018, is unlawful, unreasonable and capricious.



The two also said the Commission’s failure to gazette the 27th December, 2018 referendum puts the poll “in danger of not being transparent and fair because it disables applicants from appointing polling agents and counting officers.”

“The applicants not having been given a fair and reasonable opportunity to have polling and counting agents therefore, any vote by applicants at the poll will be diminished in quality given the danger of impersonation and multiple voting.”

The two are thus praying the court to declare that the EC’s refusal to publish the list of the polling stations or places designated as polling stations for purposes of the referendum violates their right to vote.

“…A declaration that any list of polling stations given or which may have circulated from the Electoral Commission to any interested group is unlawful and null for lack of gazette. A declaration that any discretion purported to be exercised by the Electoral Commission by gazetting the list within a day or two or even within a week is unreasonable, capricious and actuated by lack of candour. An order against the Electoral Commission to postpone the polls scheduled for the 27th of December, 2018, for failure to comply with condition precedent. An order that the Electoral Commission gazettes the list of polling stations for the referendum in compliance with its own regulation,” the two added in their writ.

Supreme Court dismisses lawsuit on new regions referendum

The Supreme Court in November 2018 dismissed a lawsuit that sought to challenge the decision of the EC to only allow residents in the affected areas to vote in the referendum.

According to the Justices of the Supreme Court, there is no genuine or real issue for interpretation as the constitution states unambiguously, the discretionary power given to the Electoral Commission.

The Justices also said the Commission of Enquiry did not err in suggesting how the referendum should be held as they did not hold the final authority to decide.



Background

The Justice Brobbey Commission was set up to look into the requests for the creation of new regions and has presented its report to the government.

The 19-member Commission, after holding nationwide consultations, urged the government to create the administrative regions to be known as the Oti, Ahafo, Brong East, Western North, North East, and Savannah regions.

The Electoral Commission has set December 27, 2018, for the referendum on the creation of the new regions.

The Commission has embarked on a series of activities, including the registration of new and continuous voters, the exhibition of the voters’ register, as well as processes for the transfer of votes and or the grant of proxy votes.

But some stakeholders in some of the areas especially in parts of the Volta Region, are opposed to the Oti Region.

Others also have concerns about the restriction of the referendum to areas that will be part of the new regions.

‘We’re not breaking any law in creating new regions’ – Nana Addo

President Nana Akufo-Addo had mounted a spirited defense of his administration’s move to create new regions saying it does not violate the 1992 constitution.



Speaking at a meeting with some chiefs from the Volta Region at the Jubilee House in October 2018, President Akufo-Addo said the government is acting according to the dictates of the Constitution.

“I would not be party to anything that attempts to subvert the constitution of Ghana. I fought all my life for constitutional rule in this country, and if I become president and I am the one undermining the constitution then I’m making nonsense of myself. I wouldn’t do that. I don’t see this thing as having anything to do with ambitions, dislike or hostility, no. So Torgbui, through you and the senior chiefs that have come with you, I’m pleading with you, let the temperature on this matter come down,” he pleaded.

L.I. on referendum for new regions laid in Parliament

The Subsidiary Legislation Committee of Parliament on November 14, 2018 laid its report on the Referendum Regulations 2018.

The regulations form part of the legal framework required to support the upcoming referendum in December 2018 for the creation of six new regions.