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ROPAA committee meets with religious, traditional leaders

BY: Political Desk
Dr Bossman Asare — Deputy EC Chair
Dr Bossman Asare — Deputy EC Chair

As part of on going efforts to operationalise the Representation of the People’s Amendment Act (ROPAA) which is expected to give opportunity to qualified Ghanaians abroad to exercise their franchise, the ROPAA Committee is meeting key stakeholders to address issues of concerns and practical challenges.

In line with this, the committee on Tuesday met with religious and traditional leaders to deliberate on the effective implementation of ROPAA.

Participants

The meeting was attended by representatives from the National Catholic Secretariat, Ahmadiyya Muslim Council, Office of the National Chief Imam, Ga Traditional Council, Osu Traditional Council, National Peace Council, Ghana Federation of Disability and some Ga chiefs and queen mothers.

They discussed among others the importance for stakeholders to make meaningful inputs in consonance with the parent law.

Topics discussed ranged from the criteria for the selection of polling stations, requirements for registration, appointment of registration and polling staff, voter registration challenges and disputes over eligibility, elections to which ROPAA should apply, among others.

The question of eligibility, as most of the stakeholders thought that the general legal principle of who qualifies to register as a voter should apply internationally irrespective of whether one was an illegal immigrant, came to the fore.

Legalities involved

The Chairman of the Committee, Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, explained the legalities involved when a Ghanaian was resident abroad and the repercussions in attempting to register as a voter.

According to Madam Adwoa Asuama Abrefa, an Electoral Commission member who is also a member of the committee, it was important to differentiate between who a citizen was, as well as a resident, since the right to register was a legal matter.

She added “The law does not operate in a vacuum.”

Dual citizenship

On the issue of dual citizenship, Dr Kunbuor cautioned that there were economic and practical reasons for giving up one’s Ghanaian citizenship as it carried with it certain limitations.

He noted that despite the fact that legally the processes of attaining the original status may be a bit complicated, there was a window of opportunity.

Allaying the fears of the stakeholders that some Ghanaians may be denied the right to register and vote as a result of the law, the chairman emphasised that the right to vote was not an absolute right and cautioned stakeholders of trying to make the law too fluid.

Assurance

For his part, the Deputy Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Dr Eric Bossman Asare, expressed concern about the proposal by some stakeholders to allow all Ghanaians, irrespective of their resident status, to register as voters since it may be a recipe for diplomatic complications.

He assured the stakeholders that despite the practical challenges involved in the operationalisation of the implementation of the ROPAA, the commission was determined to use cost-effective measures.