Validation of Voter Register: 6 Defend EC's Work

Six prominent Ghanaians including President John Dramani Mahama have jumped to the defense of the Electoral Commission over the opposition New Patriotic Party and its pressure groups’ incessant attacks and needless pressure on the election management body ahead of the November 7 polls.

Cautioning functionaries of the NPP and their allies to cease the unjustifiable harassment of the Commission, the six eminent Ghanaians advised that the EC must be given space to enable it to independently carry out its constitutional mandate of conducting elections in the country.

Aside President Mahama, others who have mounted spirited defense of the Charlotte Osei-led Commission include a Senior Political Science lecturer at University of Ghana, Dr Ransford Gyampo; Chief Policy Analyst at the Ghana Institute for Public Policy Options (GIPPO), Dr. Charles Wereko Brobby; Chairman of National Peace Council and a member of the V.C.R.C Committee, Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante; former EC boss and retired Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice VCRC Crabbe and a former deputy Commissioner of the EC, David Kangah.

And only last week, the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) has also added its voice with some members expressing their support and satisfaction towards the EC’s preparations on the limited registration to be held on the 28th of April to 10th of May.

The latest to give a clean bill of health to Ghana’s election management body is the Founder of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP); Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom who has indicated that he believes the EC will institute the right measures for the 2016 elections.

Even though Dr Nduom conceded that the Commission may have failed to address some grievances of some political parties and had been unable to implement all the recommendations of the five-member panel it (EC) set up to look into calls for a new voter’s register, he still has faith in the Commission.

Speaking recently on the matter on Takoradi based Twin City Radio; President John Mahama called for cessation of what he described as harassment of the EC. “I believe the Electoral Commission should be left in peace to do its work, this harassment is not necessary,” the president noted.

He explained that Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) where all political parties are represented is the appropriate forum where concerns from various parties are raised and discussed for a decision to be taken by the EC.

“So why do we sit in IPAC and confer with the Electoral Commission and our peers in IPAC and then we come out and do manifestations and other things and say it is our way or it is the highway. If we don’t have our way then nobody must have his way, I mean it really doesn’t help anybody,” Mr Mahama said.

He said he has restrained himself from getting involved in the argument because as a President, “I’m not supposed to get involved in these things and interfere in the work of the Electoral Commission but I do believe that our Electoral Commission has proved over and over again that it is capable and so let us give it the peace of mind to be able to deliver a credible elections for us.”

Dr Ransford Gyampo of University of Ghana shared similar opinion. He advised Ghanaians to shun the distrust towards the EC and give it the needed space to concentrate on delivering a credible election come November 7.

Speaking on Accra-based 3FM, Dr. Gyampo bemoaned the attitude of some groups towards the EC, “Let us leave the Electoral Commission to conduct its work otherwise, there cannot be any meaningful discussion of building and strengthening the institution of State when everything that the institution does is subjected to unnecessary scrutiny.”

“The Electoral Commission is an independent body which has every right to do all these things and it seems we are being too paranoid about everything that the EC does,” he added.

The President and Dr Gyampo’s position was in responds to moves by officials of the NPP and their surrogate pressure groups to unduly pile pressure on the EC to implement a supposed ‘recommendation’ by the Justice VCRC Crabbe Committee on validation of Ghana’s voter register.

Party functionaries, MPs and supporters of the NPP two weeks ago massed up in the Ashanti regional capital, Kumasi, under the umbrella of LMVCA in a demonstration dubbed “Baamu Yadda”, to wit “we will not agree”, intended to force the EC to kowtow to their new demand of “Validation” of the voter register.

The biggest opposition and its rainbow pressure group have until recently threatened to block the November polls if the EC does not yield to their demand to compile a new register for the impending elections over claims that the present one is irredeemable incurable.
But they have since abandoned that “project” after a panel constituted by the EC to investigate their claim of bloated register shot down their supposed incontrovertible evidence of bloated register.

Convener for the group, David Asante told the media in Kumasi that, the reluctance of the EC to validate voters on the register, contradicts the recommendations of its (EC’s) own panel of experts and it is a recipe for disaster.

“The principal objective of this demonstration is to drum home the need for the Electoral Commission to take the people of Ghana serious. The EC‘s committee recommended validation and the EC came out publicly to uphold the report of the committee. Most of the political parties who ideally were calling for a new voters’ register accepted the recommendation of the committee only for the EC to do another U-turn to say the commission will not do any validation.

“We find it very unhealthy for our democracy especially coming from the body that is mandated to manage our Electoral affairs in this country…We will not agree, EC must clean the voters register through the validation process to present a credible voters register for Ghanaians to have a peaceful election, ” Asante forcefully stated.

But, a founding member of the NPP and Chief Policy Analyst at GIPPO, Dr. Charles Wereko Brobbey denied of any specific validation exercise recommended by the Crabbe Committee of Experts.
Dr. Wereko Brobbey accused the NPP of dishonesty, insisting that some of them have falsely claimed that the V.C.R.A.C Crabbe Panel recommended validation to be done using a particular method which they would find more satisfying

He has therefore cautioned the largest opposition party against unjustifiably challenging the validity of the voter’s register because their antics only goes to impede the preparedness of the EC ahead of the general elections scheduled for November this year.

His position was supported by a deputy Minister of Communications, Felix Kwakye Ofosu who wrote on his facebook wall “Fact: Nowhere in the report of the panel set up to look into claims by the NPP over the voter register was validation recommended. NPP has been lying throughout this unnecessary debate over the register.”

Consolidating these positions, Chairman of National Peace Council and a member of the V.C.R.C Committee, Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante also denied claims that the five-member panel set up by the EC to look into concerns over the credibility of the voter register recommended a particular ‘validation’ process.

He told Joy news “I don’t really recall us dwelling on that term validation, we might have used it”, adding there are several ways the EC can go about cleaning the register.

He continued that, “My understanding of the whole thing is that we want to make sure that the names that are in there are supposed to be there and peoples whose names should not be in there are deleted.”

To ensure a clean voters' register, Rev. Asante said there will be the need for a "proper voter exhibition" adding the Committee has suggested to the EC to extend the voter exhibition exercise to at least a week to enable Ghanaians crosscheck their names.

This position of the committee of experts was earlier stated by Chairman of the Committee, Justice VCRC Crabbe on GTV’s Talking Point and supported by former deputy Chairman of the Commission and now, a member of the Council of State, David Kangah.

Meanwhile, some members of the Inter Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) have also indicated their support and satisfaction towards the EC’s preparations on the limited registration exercise.
Two opposition political parties, the Convention Peoples Party and the Progressive Peoples Party together with the ruling NDC say they are satisfy with the EC’s preparedness towards this month’s limited registration exercise.

The CPP’s Director of Election, James Kwabena Bomfeh told journalist after an Inter Party Advisory Committee meeting in Accra last week that, the meeting was satisfactory, but was not pleased with calls by some political parties for voter’s register validation, adding that he was not happy because the issue never came up for discussion.
Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, the NDC Director of Elections, said the party is happy with Electoral Commission’s preparation towards the limited registration.

He said the NDC party suggested the EC should collaborate with the birth and death registry to get documents on those who are no more living with us (dead) so their names could be deleted from the register. He also confirmed that the issue of validation has never come up at any IPAC meeting

On his part, PPP’s National Chairman, Allotey Brew Hammond said the PPP is ready for the limited voters’ registration and had wanted the EC to use the National Identification Authority database to prune the voters’ register of minors, but their advice was not taken by the EC and now time is far spent for that exercise.

His position was supported by founder of his party, Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom who said “The day I say that I have no confidence in the EC that is the day I give up being part of the political process. So, I can only keep my hopes alive,” he told Emefa Apawu on Class FM’s 505 news programme, Friday April 15.