A steering committee recently inaugurated by the Electoral Commission ahead of the November polls is biased towards the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) and, thus, must be dissolved, pressure group Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) has demanded.
In a statement issued Tuesday February 16 and signed by Convenor David Asante, the group said it is “worried about the bizarre manner that the Charlotte-Osei-led Electoral Commission is preparing towards this year’s general elections.”
It cites three reasons to back its argument. “First, the EC, without explanation, continues to ignore the advice of its own Panel of Experts to clean up the voters’ register by a process of validation of all registered voters.
“Two, the EC, after ignoring to take such meaningful steps to clean up the register, went ahead to set a date for limited registration when it had made no actual preparation towards it. The date for that exercise is now in limbo. The machines for the registration exercise are not even properly serviced for the job.
“With those two crucial issues still up in the air, the EC suddenly comes out to say it has put together a 10-member National Elections Steering Committee,” LMVCA listed. The Committee was inaugurated on 8 February 2016.
“This latest move, to the LMVCA’s disappointment, only adds to a sequence of actions that shows that the EC, in its preparation towards the 2016 general elections, is not really interested in holding a non-partisan, professional and efficient line for delivering on its constitutional mandate. The so-called Steering Committee is populated by NDC people. It is an NDC-biased Steering Committee.
“It looks little more than a committee setup to remove structural and operational impediments in the way of President John Mahama’s desperation to hold on to power by hook or crook,” the group alleged.
Below are its reasons for saying so:
Take Dr. Karl Mark Arhin, for example. He is, unashamedly, a card-bearing member of the ruling NDC. Indeed, Dr. Arhin was, until recently, a former Deputy Director of International Affairs of the NDC. He is there ostensibly as a representative from the National Service Secretariat. This is what makes his nomination dangerous. The EC intends to use mainly National Service personnel as election officers. But how fair can this process be when the person nominated to facilitate this process is a leading member of the ruling party?
Another example is the appointment of Francis Azumiah from the Peace Council. He is a senior member of the NDC in the Builsa North constituency, who has at various times tried to contest as Parliamentary Candidate for the NDC in the constituency. His strong push recently for the position of District Chief Executive of the Builsa District is also well known. Mrs Charlotte Osei has deliberately picked NDC people from relevant institutions to man her bogus steering committee.
Another example is Joe Whittal, a lawyer, and Deputy Commissioner at CHRAJ. He is also a known NDC loyalist.
How can such a committee help the ultimate national quest for free, fair and credible elections?
In this period of demand for greater transparency to boost stakeholder confidence in the EC, why did the Commission choose to introduce this whole concept of a steering committee on the complete blind side of the political parties at IPAC? We are aware that the decision to compose this committee was never ever mentioned at IPAC.
Inasmuch as we respect the independence of the EC, the Commission’s independence must, however, not be used as an excuse against accountability and for bias.
The Terms of Reference and mandate of the committee, appears duplicitous, bogus, and potentially wasteful of taxpayers’ money as currently framed.
From our understanding of the workings of the EC, there are elections management committees at all levels, national, regional and district.
The EC has every right to set up a new committee to help deliver credible and peaceful elections. But, it defeats any well-meaning purpose when the composition is itself manifestly bias and the deliebration towards its composition and functions left out key stakeholders such as political parties and civil society groups.
We, therefore, wish to urge the Commission to reverse the inauguration of the Steering Committee, go back to the drawing table with all key stakeholders and find consensus to, if need be, move this concept forward but in the right direction with the right people.
LMCVA wishes to serve notice that we shall continue with our civic responsibility to help highlight issues germaine to safeguarding our democracy by ensuring that we have a transparent, credible, free, fair, lawful and incident-free elections in 2016. This is our mission. Pure and simple