The Danquah Institute, a think-tank, says the lack of clarity in the Electoral Commission’s (EC) communications on the voter registration and other election-related issues has contributed to the general unease on the matter.
“We find the EC’s public education and rationalisation as the major reason why some Ghanaians are worried and sceptical about the compilation of a new voters register. The EC’s public relations has also failed to give comfort to a coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSO) and political parties,” it stated.
At a news conference on “A Credible Voters Register and the Future of Democracy,” in Accra last Monday, the Executive Director of the institute, Mr Richard Ahiagbah, explained that it was the considered position of the institute that the 2012 voters register compiled under the C.I. 72 did not reasonably and accurately identify who a Ghanaian was, and that the EC’s processes to compile the register were fraught with illegality and disorderliness in its data collection approach.
“This register ought to have been replaced in 2014 or 2016, and while we do not wish to dictate or determine how the EC remedies the 2012 voter register compiled under C.I. 72, we demand that the EC be guided by the Supreme Court’s interpretation of article 45(a) in the Abu Ramadan and Evans Nimako case, ‘that upon a true and proper interpretation of article 45(a) of the 1992 Constitution, the mandate of the Electoral Commission to compile the register of voters implies a duty to compile a reasonably accurate and credible register’,” he said.
Mr Ahiagbah said there could not be any reasonable justification whatsoever, be it cost, time, procurement difficulties or even COVID-19, to defend the use of the current register.
He said in so far as Ghanaians were committed to promoting democracy in Ghana, “we have a duty of care to rise above all entrenched partisan interests to declare that the current register constituted under C.I. 72 is not credible and a new one should have been compiled”.
Mr Ahiagbah urged the EC to engage and objectively assess the recommendations put forth by leading CSOs and members of the Ghana Anti-corruption Coalition (GACC).
“They raised concerns about the cost of compiling a new register, procurement issues and technical concerns. Others, too, have raised concerns about time and COVID-19 as reasons why the EC should not compile a new register,” he noted.
He said the EC could achieve a consensus with all interest groups to engage the concerns about cost, procurement, technical, time and COVID-19 as part of the EC’s process to compile a new voters register.
“In other words, the concerns of cost, procurement, and time or COVID-19 should inform and guide the safe and frugal compilation of a new register, but not preclude us from holding true to our conscience, the rule of law and the constitution,” he said.
Mr Ahiagbah, however, said given the overriding constitutional, legal and process irregularities advanced thus far, the EC could achieve consensus with all interest groups to engage the concerns about cost, procurement, technical, time and COVID-19 as part of the EC’s process to compile a new voters register.