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Mon, Aug

EC needs more stakeholder engagement

There is currently a raging battle between the Electoral Commission (EC) and some political parties, especially the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), over filing fees for the 2016 elections.

According to the PPP, the fees were too exorbitant, describing it as “discriminatory in nature, arbitrary, capricious and unreasonable”. 

Presidential aspirants are paying GH₵50,000, while parliamentary candidates are paying GH₵10,000, up from GH₵10,000 and GH₵1,000, respectively, for the 2012 polls.

Although it is not very clear whether the EC intended the high fees to discourage “non-serious” political parties from the contest, the perception out there is that that is what it intends to achieve.

If really that is what the EC intends to achieve, it may be in for a long battle with some of the political parties.

Some few months ago, the EC gave some political parties up to May to submit their audited accounts, but that became a tug of war between the EC and those parties.

By law, that is what all parties are mandated to do, in addition to having physical presence in two-thirds of all the districts in the country.

The EC is clothed with enormous power to deal with some of the parties whose leaders are in the political game for personal aggrandisement and not necessarily contributing to the success of our democratic governance.

Why some keen observers of the political scene think the confusion on the political landscape can be partly blamed on the EC is that it has become a toothless bulldog when it comes to the application of the law.

The immediate past Chairman of the EC, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, used to argue that if the EC wanted to enforce the Political Parties Law, many of the parties would not pass the test.

But we want to ask: does that explain why the EC has on its list parties that claim to be on vacation or no longer have physical presence or any leaders?

Another worrying trend is the argument by a section of our society that the EC is independent and for that reason none of its actions ought to be questioned.

The EC, as a creation of the Constitution, is only subject to the supreme law of the land and that also means that it cannot circumvent the law that created it.

If the EC breaches the law, the law will re-direct it to its true mandate, but not the direction of any individual or institution.

The Daily Graphic pleads with the EC not to play sovereign but endeavour to operate strictly within the confines of the law in order to avoid this latest challenge by the PPP that can disrupt its programme towards Election 2016 on December 7.

As far as the merits or demerits of the PPP’s case are concerned, we would not pretend to have the answers and perhaps even be in contempt of court.

Be that as it may, the PPP’s action will certainly detract from the objectives of the EC to work towards a smooth programme for Election 2016. 

Over the years, the EC has been able to resolve very contentious issues at Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meetings.

We, therefore, appeal to it to get involved in more stakeholder engagements with only 68 days to Election 2016.

That way, the EC, the political parties and, indeed, all voters will be singing from the same hymn book so that once again Ghana will have free and fair election and demonstrate to the whole world that we are gradually becoming the most solid democratic state on the African continent.