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Commissioners at the Electoral Commission (EC) have about three months to avoid possible jail time over the implementation of a 2017 court order.
That order was to implement a law that allows Ghanaians in the diaspora to vote without paying the price of an international transport fare.
When the EC Chair, appointed in July 2018, got ready to start this work, she formed a committee to examine the implementation of possibly the most difficult electoral task to date.
But it turns out, this committee is about to do a ‘difficult work’ already done twice.
Legal practitioner, Samson Lardy Ayenini, pointed this out on Joy News’ late evening analysis show PM Express.
There is a 2011 report that details a ‘comprehensive roadmap’ for ROPAA implementation and another report done by a consultant to the EC that ‘virtually’ recommended a similar roadmap, the lawyer explained to host Evans Mensah.
Justifying the latest EC committee on Representation of the People (Amendment) Act (ROPAA), the EC Chair, Jean Mensa, said the 2011 committee’s work was to register Ghanaians working at embassies or on scholarships who are allowed to vote.
But this 2018 committee will mull over “whether or not it will be possible to implement” ROPAL in the next general elections in 2020.
Samson Lardy Anyenini said this explanation is a sign the EC does not read its own reports and laws.
He explained the 2011 work had nothing to do with registering anybody. That committee which included then EC commissioner Safo Kantanka, NDC heavyweight Hudu Yahya and NPP strategist Dan Botwe, drew a comprehensive roadmap for implementation, the lawyer explained.
Jean Mensa’s explanation, “I am sorry to say was complete untruth,” Samson Lardy, who obtained a Supreme Court judgment ordering the implementation, said.
He explained, ROPAA was passed by Parliament in February 2006 after very extensive consultations in Ghana and abroad.
It took the EC five years to do another extensive consultation on implementation in 2011.
Another consultant has also drawn another roadmap, albeit similar and it has taken another eight more years to draw up another roadmap.
Surely, the court must be exasperated by the feet-dragging, the lawyer suggested and warned the EC chair and her colleague commissioners, of looming contempt of court.
The IGP has been found guilty of contempt over his failure to implement a court order.
Ghana’s number one police officer is awaiting his sentence.
“They [the EC commissioners] should wait”, the legal practitioner warned.
“I have no doubt that if they do not comply with the orders of the court, they are likely to face prison terms or a fine”, he said.
The EC has 68 more days to comply with the 2017 court order. But if the commission believes it can not, it must notify the court 30 days to the expiration of the January 2019 deadline.
If the court is convinced, a new deadline could be handed down as the 2006 law gets set to mark its 19th anniversary of non-implementation.