EC should have received NDC’s proposal — Gyampo

BY: Suleiman Mustapha
 Professor Ransford Gyampo — A Political Science lecturer at the University of Ghana
Professor Ransford Gyampo — A Political Science lecturer at the University of Ghana

A political science lecturer at the University of Ghana, Professor Ransford Gyampo, has said that the Electoral Commission (EC) erred in directing the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to submit their proposed electoral reforms to the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC).

Professor Gyampo said IPAC was not the right forum for a political party to present its proposals to.

“EC must receive it first then, if it can, send it to IPAC. It is not the right directive to the political party,” he said on Good Evening Ghana on Metro TV last Thursday.

“IPAC is not a legally binding body, has no law backing. It is not the right directive to the NDC. It is a misdirection,” he stated.

The Electoral Commission has directed the NDC to submit all their electoral proposals to the IPAC.

The EC said they did not deal with individual political parties, rather it was the IPAC that did that.

“We don’t deal with individual parties, and IPAC is designed to promote multi-party views, so IPAC is the right forum for such discussion”.

“So we responded to their proposals and asked the party to bring them to IPAC,” media reports quotes the Electoral Commissioner, Mrs Jean Mensa as saying.

Reform proposals

The NDC has put forward a set of electoral reform proposals for the action of the Executive, Legislature and bodies other than the Electoral Commission of Ghana.

This comes after the party made initial six proposals for electoral reforms on May 20, 2021, during a press conference they dubbed: Assessing the so-called achievements and electoral reform proposal by the Electoral Commission of Ghana.

Those proposals came by way of an immediate reaction to the adoption by the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) and the Electoral Commission on some electoral reforms which included
closing polls at 3:00 pm, a continuous voter registration exercise, an all-year-round voter exhibition exercise through the use of technology (SMS shortcode), among others.

IPAC meetings

The NDC, which had not participated in the IPAC meeting at the time, raised concerns about the proposals, rejecting some, especially the proposal to close polls at 3:00 pm.

In furtherance to that, the party in a stakeholder engagement proposed that there should be prior parliamentary approval for the appointment of EC members.

The NDC is of the view that the current mode of appointment of the Electoral Commission appears to be partisan and does not involve Parliament.

This, they contend, does not allow the commission to be as independent, neutral and credible as it ought to be.

Other proposals include specially-designated courts to be exclusively designated for electoral disputes and offences before, during and after registration of voters and elections.

Names of deceased

The NDC also proposes that the EC be allowed by law to apply to the courts to remove names of deceased and other unqualified persons from the provisional register when informed by the relevant authorities.

But the Commission says the suggestions, which have a direct nexus on their operations, will be looked at.

“The EC always wants to be the best, and so we are for anything that will enhance the electoral process.

“When the NDC finally submits its electoral reforms to IPAC, we will look at the issues holistically and decide on them,” the EC boss says.

The commission added, “regional collation centres in our own estimations were good, and that would have been continued-nevertheless, if there’s an opportunity to improve, it would be available to do so,”

Equal access

The main opposition party also want the state broadcaster (GBC) to provide equal access to all political parties: The NDC wants the GBC, to be made to comply with the provision of Article 55 (11) of the Constitution of Ghana, 1992, as was held in the Supreme Court decision in New Patriotic Party v. Ghana Broadcasting Corporation [1993-94] 2 GLR 354. Article 55 (11) states that:

They believe the proposal, when implemented, will ensure an even playing field and an equitable access to state-owned media which is funded by the taxpayer.”

IPAC should be backed by legislation: The opposition NDC wants the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) to have legal backing through an amendment to the Electoral Commission Act, 1993, Act 451. They want the amendment to spell out the composition of IPAC and its functions, a proposal said to have first been made by the EC’s own Electoral Reforms Committee in 2015, adopted by the IPAC and accepted by the EC.

But Professor Gyampo said the EC should receive NDC’s proposals and table them at IPAC for discussions and consideration.