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EC meets political parties on compilation of a new voters’ register.

BY: Albert K. Salia

The Electoral Commission (EC) is holding a meeting with the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) on the impending registration of voters.

The only item on the agenda at the meeting, which has been divided into two groups of eight political parties, is an update on the 2020 registration exercise.

Each political party is expected to be represented by one person in line with directives of not having social gatherings exceeding 25 persons.

But the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has refused to participate in the meeting. The NDC claims the format of holding the meeting in two different groups with a single representative of the political parties will not lead to consensus building.

It said the EC could have arranged to hold the meeting in a more spacious venue where all the representatives would have been present to deliberate on the issues for consensus building.

The General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketia, further told the Daily Graphic that the stance by the NDC not to attend the meeting was fortified by the ruling by the Tema High Court in which the court held that the EC was not one of the institutions exempted from the restrictions imposed by the President to curb the spread of the coronavirus diseases 2019 (COVID-19).

He said the reasons given by the EC that the IPAC meeting would be held in two parts to meet the 25 persons exemption on public gathering was faulty because the High Court had held that the 25 persons exemption only applied to private burials.

Meeting details

Sources close to the EC have confirmed to the Daily Graphic that the Commission would be outlining its registration plans to the political parties in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sources said the EC would also discuss the modalities for the registration exercise, which are expected to be done in clusters and in phases over a 40-day period.

The political parties would also be briefed on the mode of movements of the registration officials to avoid any misunderstanding or suspicions that might arise due to the movement of the teams.

NDC

Throwing more light on NDC’s reasons for declining to participate in the IPAC meeting, Mr Nketia said after the High Court ruling, the NDC submitted proposals to the EC urging the Commission to write to the Presidency for an amendment of the Executive Instrument (E.I) so that the EC could be listed as an essential service.

Mr Nketia said the EC failed to acknowledge the letter but went ahead to invite the NDC to another meeting with the same content as the previous meeting on March 25, 2020, which the party boycotted.

He said although IPAC was an advisorial body, the actions of the current commissioners were aborting the spirit of consensus building that had guided Ghana’s democratic path since 1994 when IPAC was set up.

Tema High Court

On April 25, 2020, the Tema High Court placed an interim injunction on a planned workshop by the Electoral Commission (EC) to train its officers for the forthcoming voters’ registration exercise.

It followed an ex-parte application filed by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for Ningo Prampram, Mr Sam Nartey George.

According to the court, the EC was not one of the public institutions exempted from the restrictions imposed by the President to curb the coronavirus pandemic.

It further held that the 25 persons exemption rule from the ban on social and public gathering only applied to private burials.

“I must be quick to add, however, that a gathering of employees of the respondent commission in its offices observing social distancing protocols would not infringe the Executive Instrument 64 of 2020 as extended by Executive Instrument 67 of 2020 because it would not, in my opinion, constitute a public gathering,” the presiding judge, Justice Eugene Nyante Nyadu, held.

Read also: PNC walks out of IPAC meeting on compilation of a new voters’ register.