Reject new Electoral Commission C.I.- Coalition urges Parliament
A Coalition of smaller political parties, "Third Force Alliance," has called on Parliament to reject the new Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) by the Electoral Commission (EC) and not allow it to mature and become law.
The coalition made up of the People’s National Convention (PNC), the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) and the Ghana Union Movement (GUM) said it held the view that the new C.I. was not only obnoxious and unconstitutional, but it was inimical to the tenets of participatory democracy in the country.
The new C.I. seeks to make the Ghana card the sole identification document for voter registration, and when laid in Parliament, will come into force after 21 sitting days, except the House annuls it by a vote of not less than two-thirds of all Members of Parliament (MPs).
Last month, the Chairperson of the EC, Jean Mensa, told Parliament, as part of the pre-laying of the C.I., that the Ghana Card as the sole registration document would ensure that only eligible Ghanaians registered as voters.
However, addressing a press conference in Accra yesterday, the Spokesperson of the coalition and National Communications Secretary of the PNC, Awudu Ishaq, said it was time for the EC to apprise itself of the dangers and repercussions that the C.I. posed to the country’s nascent democracy.
Mr Ishaq said the teething challenges that continued to bedevil the Ghana Card registration process made the proposed C.I. even more objectionable.
"Apart from logistical and network concerns, we now know that the operations of the National Identification Authority (NIA) have been hamstrung by financial constraints.
"These financial challenges, as the NIA itself has disclosed, have led to 3.5 million blank cards being locked up in a bonded warehouse due to its indebtedness to its private partner, Identity Management System (IMS), while another 645,663 cards are yet to be issued to Ghanaians who have completed their registrations.
Additionally, about 631,847 cards have not been printed while as we speak, an estimated 2.5 million Ghanaians are yet to be registered in the first place," he said.
The group expressed shock at the EC's proposal to abandon its own guarantor system which had been integrated into L.I 2111(2012), the very law regulating, the issuance of the Ghana Card.
"Making the Ghana Card the sole document for the identification of Ghanaians can only be construed as a devious plot by the Jean Mensa-led Electoral Commission acting in cohorts with the failed Akufo-Addo and Bawumia government to subvert the inalienable right of millions of Ghanaians," Mr Ishaq alleged.
He contended that the decision by the EC to abandon the registration of voters at polling stations and electoral area levels for registration at district centres would hugely disenfranchise a greater majority of prospective voters considering the geographical outlook of the districts across the country.
"This arrangement would require people to travel long distances in order to access the registration centres in the districts.
Apart from inconveniencing prospective voters, this will further place a financial burden on the very Ghanaians whose economic and financial circumstances have been worsened," he added.
Mr Ishaq said the unpopular decision by the EC to expunge the guarantor system from the proposed C.I. as a form of identification for the purposes of voter registration is curious, untenable and inexplicable.
"Why would the Electoral Commission accept a Ghana Card which can be procured through the guarantor system as proof of citizenship at the National Identification Authority but cannot allow the same or similar guarantor system for voter registration?” he asked.
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