President John Mahama has appointed a successor to Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan. The appointment of Mrs Charlotte Osei as the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) has, however, not been bereft of controversy. It has suffered a congenital defect and therefore lost the remedial leverage that could have reversed the fallen image of the EC.
The assumption of office of a new head of a crestfallen organisation like the EC should have paved the way for the repair work that the elections management body needs to regain its past glory. Unfortunately, Charlotte’s tenure is starting on a rough note.
It is an appointment which inherent judicial and democratic impropriety has attracted the attention of a political science egghead.
In his estimation, Dr Ransford Gyampo, a senior lecturer at the University of Ghana’s Department of Political Science, says the appointment sets a bad precedence, as contained in a news story elsewhere in this edition.
A future regime not comfortable with a John Mahama-appointed EC Chairperson could decide to, for instance, transfer Charlotte to another constitutionally guaranteed independent body such as the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) or even the National Media Commission (NMC).
We think that the academician has a case worth considering, if we want to entrench the gains we have chalked so far in our democratic voyage.
With the precedence now set, we should be ready to witness the heads of these bodies being shuffled when new regimes assume political leadership of the country.
There is no denying the fact that our democracy will be the loser when such shuffling, hitherto alien to these bodies, leads to manipulation of the electoral system.
We could not agree more with Dr Gyampo’s analysis; but in a country where queries are prone to mischievous interpretations, he would be subjected to vitriolic remarks by those who profit monetarily from such verbal attacks of persons they disagree with.
Electoral matters are critical in every democracy, more so in African developing countries. That is why we must steer away from avoidable blunders which tend to stain anything about the EC, the appointment of its head et al.
We have also taken notice of Dr Gyampo’s observation that since the appointment of an EC Chairperson is the subject of a case at the Supreme Court, the president should have showed adequate deference to the judicial authority by tarrying a while until the disposal of the case.
The rush to make such a critical appointment as an affront to the judiciary, as Dr Gyampo observed, is a further erosion of the authorities of public institutions which continue to suffer from unnecessary executive interferences.
The executive should not be seen to be showing disrespect to the arms of government in a manner which casts a long shadow over our adherence to the separation of powers in our political circumstances.
Can the Supreme Court under the circumstances adjudicate otherwise the case before it?
Source: editorial/daily guide
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