Poll C’tee suspension laudable – Prempeh


Law lecturer Professor H. Kwasi Prempeh has stated that the decision of the Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC) to suspend the 18-member steering committee it inaugurated to oversee the 2016 presidential and parliamentary poll merits applause.

He told Accra News Friday February 19, 2016 the move was a positive signal to opposition parties and Ghanaians that the EC did not know it all, and that it could “acknowledge mistakes when it makes them”.

The EC made the announcement of the suspension of the committee at an Interparty Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting held Friday February 19, 2016.

The suspension of the committee’s activities follows an avalanche of flak from pressure groups Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) and Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG).

The two groups said four of the members on the committee were affiliated to the governing National Democratic Congress and, thus, their neutrality could not be guaranteed as far as their work on the poll committee was concerned.

They include Dr Karl Marx Arhin of the National Service Secretariat (NSS), Francis Azumiah of the National Peace Council (NPC), Acting Commissioner of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) Joseph Whittal, and deputy boss of the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) Samual Asare Akuamoah.

LMVCA and AFAG have both accused the chair of the EC, Mrs Charlotte Osei, of putting together the committee to do the bidding of the NDC in the 2016 polls.

Asked if there were legal grounds for the setting up of the steering committee formed by the EC chairperson, Prof Prempeh said: “The law empowers the EC to empanel any committee, being an independent body. So, the law backed it in the formation of IPAC, as well as in the setting up of the committee of eminent persons, recently to look into the request for a new voters’ register. So, the EC can set up any commission it desires, but its mandate should be backed by law. But for this committee, I did not see the law backing it, or its mandate, apart from being told they should see to the smooth running of the elections.”

He further stated that it was time the EC turned away from its inflexible stance on key issues, which had proven costly in the past. The law professor cited the district assembly elections in 2015, which suffered a hiccup after a Supreme Court ruling against the EC stalled the polls. The opposition, he recollected, had warned the commission against going ahead with the poll but its resolute posture forced the case to be taken to court where the cancellation of polls cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

Prof Prempeh said further proof of the EC’s intransigence included its handling of the calls for a new voters’ register by many opposition parties.

He recalled the position of the EC when the matter of the composition of its steering committee came up. “They also said the committee they had set up was above reproach, but it took a pressure group to point out that one or two persons did not merit their places on the committee,” he pointed out, adding: “Rev Asante of the Peace Council had said they had not received any letter from the EC asking them to nominate someone to the committee, so, he knew nothing about it.”

“So, we plead with the EC, the 2016 election will not be like the 2012, 2008, or 2000 elections. It is going to be different. Now many Ghanaians are looking forward to this election, other countries are observing, too. Whatever is happening in Ghana is being monitored, so, we urge her [Mrs Charlotte Osei], as a good mother would, to do what will make Ghanaians happy, lest the democracy we desire will not be entrenched. She should listen to all sides, and make decisions that will aid Ghana’s development. But from the look of things, it’s not going well.”

Source: ClassFMonline

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