The Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA), a coalition of young patriotic Ghanaians across the political spectrum and beyond, has been resurrected to help bring greater, positive public pressure to bear on the whole process of electoral reforms, including the integrity of the personnel at the Electoral Commission, in order to safeguard and strengthen our democracy ahead of election 2016 and beyond.
Of particular concern to us at this point in time is who becomes the next Chairman of the Electoral Commission. We wish to bring this matter squarely at the front of public discussion now before it is too late. Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan, the EC Chairman, will reach his retiring age of 70 in June and a new Chairperson must take over from him this year. We are reliably informed that Dr Afari Gyan has proceeded on leave and will not be returning to the EC offices as its head ever again.
We do not want to have imposed on the nation a person of deep-seated doubtful integrity; a probability that we wish to assure the appointing authority would not pass without aggressive, legitimate resistance from the young people of this country.
We are fully aware of moves by the President of the Republic to abuse the constitutional allowance to appoint a person to serve the interest of his party and not the interest of his nation. We know of high-powered discussions within the upper echelons of the ruling National Democratic Congress as to who they should settle on to replace Afari Gyan. We will not allow this important constitutional duty to be purely an NDC affair. Let it be known now and without ambiguity that we shall resist making this matter a purely NDC affair with all of our constitutional might.
Ghana does not deserve this and the spirit of these times of widening democratic engagement of all stakeholders in the arrangements of our electoral system, as it is being seen in the ongoing process of electoral reforms, must, surely, be extended to include how the next EC boss is appointed.
We do not want another Dr. Afari Gyan. Pure and simple. For someone who was touted as the “Mighty Igor” of elections in Africa, he was badly exposed as an incompetent, reckless and bias umpire in the election petition trial that followed the 2012 presidential election. This is what one of the Supreme Court Justices, Justice Jones Dotse, had to say about Dr Afari Gyan:
“My observation is that, Dr. Afari Gyan appeared to have concentrated his oversight responsibility at the top notch of the election administration, thereby abdicating his supervisory role at the grassroots or bottom, where most of the activities critical to the conduct of elections are performed. In this instance, he even appeared not to be conversant with some of the basic procedural steps and rules that are performed by his so-called temporary staff. So far as I am concerned, Dr. Afari Gyan has cut a very poor figure of himself, and the much acclaimed competent election administrator both nationally and internationally has evaporated into thin air once his portfolio has come under the close scrutiny of the Courts.”
Barely a year and a half after the election petition, Dr Afari Gyan was in the Supreme Court again, with the conduct of the District Assembly and Unit Committee elections being the subject of litigation. As a result of sheer arrogance on his part and his “Yen tie Obiaa” mantra, the District Assembly election which was to have taken place latest March 2015 was cancelled and postponed indefinitely.
Dr. Afari Gyan, who was appointed by the NDC to chair the Commission in 1993 has been the longest serving constitutional office holder in the Fourth Republic. If the Constitution did not provide for the EC chair to be vetted by Parliament, then it is of the utmost importance and necessity that the public directly have a say as to who gets appointed.
In view of the above-mentioned facts, we the youth of this country wish to make it known to President Mahama that we will not allow him to appoint the next EC chair without wide public consultation.
LMVCA is calling for a total transparent process with full public engagement in this matter. As the Constitution says and Ghanaians expect, the next EC boss must be competent, just, and with no trace of political allegiance to any of the political parties.
The same way all the major stakeholders, including parties and civil society groups, have been involved in the electoral reforms, we want to see even greater democratic engagement in the selection and appointment of the next EC boss.
LMVCA calls on President Mahama to heed our request in the interest of rebuilding public confidence in the country’s electoral process and in his own hitherto doubtful commitment to democracy. Anything short of this will be strongly resisted.
We want our votes to count and we believe making the voice of the people count in the appointment of the next EC boss is a critical part of this fundamental constitutional right of the people.
David Asante (Convener)
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