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“Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t” The Plight of The Ghana Electoral Commission – NPP-USA Bemoans

Elections around the world over are very polarizing enough, however, to have a group(s) of persons breathe over your neck on how to exercise your constitutionally mandated role of conducting the election exercise could add to your plight in ensuring that the cardinal principle of free, fair and transparent election is achieved.

This can be murkier – no matter the cost – and make already bad situation worse. The principle of free, fair and transparent election process has never been in contention or doubt by all parties and stakeholders in our electoral process. While the expectation of the ordinary Ghanaian remains constant, the burden, however, is on the Electoral Commission of Ghana to ensure that the expectation is met at all material times, and that they need not falter in their sole responsibility and obligation. The means to achieving those principles have always come under strict scrutiny and debate; leaving little or no room for the EC – –  who bears the sole brunt and blame if failure or otherwise of achieving the cardinal principles are compromise – – to be needlessly questioned and vociferously attacked citing a variety of reasons which still does not shift the burden of responsibility from the EC to the complainants, should anything go wrong with the process.

Come December 7th. 2020, voters will want to step out into the polling centers with 100 percent certainty that the Elections Systems work, voters’ names are on the voters register, they can be fully verified by the voting and verification management system and, ultimately, they can cast a ballot for their referred candidates. This uncompromising burden only rest on the singular shoulders of the Electoral Commission. We cannot play it both ways and damn the EC if they do, and damn them if they don’t! It would not change what voters want to see at the voting centers; what goes into the process is inconsequential to the average voter. NPP-USA condemns these attacks on the persons and personality of the EC and its Commissioners and deem those attacks as unfair and sadly dangerous for our democracy if we box the Electoral Commission into “Damn if you do, Damn if you don’t” situation. The Electoral Commission (EC), singularly will get the blame if the upcoming 2020 elections does not leave up to the cardinal principles and expectations of free, fair and transparent exercise. Meanwhile, the ingredient – – the new voters register which the EC requires to deliver on their mandate, they are being impeded from getting it. How are we possibly being fair and considerate to their plight?

It was not by mistake that the 1992 constitution of Ghana, under article 42, mandated the Electoral Commission (EC) singularly, to compile a voter register for the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections in Ghana. We can all have our say on how that should be done but ultimately, the hard and final decision and responsibility rest with the Electoral Commission and so we mustn’t force their hands to do our bidding. The EC cannot commit the sin of dereliction of their duties and responsibilities when they know fully well that their continuous use of the existing voter register for the conduct of the December 7th. 2020 elections will be a suicide mission.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) and some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have taking an entrenched position and have harshly criticized the EC on their new voter compilation stands. The NDC have gone around the country inciting some Chiefs and their supporters to fight and resist the Electoral Commission. Sadly, the NDC flag bearer, Mr. John Mahama, has cowardly dared the EC in their efforts to compile a voter register. The chairperson of the EC and some other commissioners have received threats to their lives all in the bid to do their job mandated them by the constitution of the Republic of Ghana. This is very dangerous and NPP-USA joins many Ghanaians to condemn the personal attacks and threats to the lives of these hard working Commissioners. Compiling of new voters’ register for elections in Ghana is not the first rodeo of the Electoral Commission. The EC has done this severally under the fourth republic in 1992, 1996, 2004, and 2012 and, each time, they have sought to improve on the voters’ register with new features that help ensure the robustness and the credibility of the voters register than the previous ones. This goes to show an Electoral Commission that is progressive, open to innovation, ingenuity and strive for world class standard in Electoral Management and practice.

The Electoral Commission has made a compelling case and have time and again stated good reasons why they need a new voter register of Ghanaians 18 years of age and older, and of sound mind who wish to have their names in the voter roll. We believe the EC was not looking to get the buy-in of every Ghanaian or all stakeholders. However, they have demonstrated that they respect Ghanaians enough to make a case to them before they made their final decision on the path, they have chosen to ensure that election 2020 is free, fair and transparent. What they need from Ghanaians at this critical point, when by a majority decision of 106 – 92 the Legislative House has approved the Constitutional Instrument (C.I. 126) which gives legal backing to their plans to compile a new voter register, is our support and encouragement in ensuring that they get it right for all of us. One would have thought that the NDC would have learned something from the New Patriotic Party (NPP) 2015 new voter compilation crusade example and experience which unfortunately left one Ghanaian man losing one of his eyes under NDC’s brutality and not push their luck too far. Their call for Armageddon on the Electoral Commission and some selected Commissioners including the Chairperson must stop. It is never compulsory to register and vote under the laws of Ghana. It is well within their right as NDC to mandate their teaming supporters and followers to either register or not to register. We sure wish they will register to exercise their constitutional right.

NPP took a principled stand not to participate in the parliamentary elections in 1992 and thus boycotted same but, that did not stop the EC then, from conducting parliamentary elections, which saw only NDC Parliamentarians going to Parliament without the NPP elected person. Ghana must run with or without a particular group of people. Any attempt by any group of persons to destabilize the peace or to disrupt the voter compilation exercise must have the full understanding that the laws of Ghana will stop them and if they insist that Ghana must burn because they are not participating, they will face the laws of Ghana. Electoral Commission has pursued lots of reforms all in the bid to strengthen our electoral process and they have contributed through dialogue and consultation to building the needed bulwarks in our Fourth Republic democratic dispensation. We cannot emphasize enough on the introduction of transparent ballot boxes, photo ID cards, biometric verification, among others all to ensure that our democracy grows leading to few or minimal electoral malfeasance and ultimately get to a point where having to occasionally compile a new voter roll will be a thing of the past. NPP-USA can say with absolute certainty that we are not there yet so such exercise of compilation of voters’ register will continue to occur occasionally.

NPP-USA strongly believes that, the people of Ghana, whose mandate political parties seek to come to power, expect to see alternative ideas, policies, programs and vision based on which a vote must be cast; that is what political parties do best and must be made to focus on that. NDC should on the other hand, leave the Electoral Commission alone to do what they also do best which is, to run a free, fair and transparent elections which starts with the compilation of a credible voter roll without which the entire 2020 elections could be highly compromised; a situation we will all reject!

The least we can all do as patriotic citizens is to support the EC not damn them! We remain citizens!

By NPP-USA Communications Directorate

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