Bring Ghana’s General Elections Forward To October

In my last article captioned “Election 2012 Draws Near”, I stressed the need to create between now and the next general elections the necessary conditions that will lead to a “trouble-free” election season next year. Conducting elections on suitable dates is one best way to help create “trouble-free” elections. In my opinion, December is not a suitable month to hold Ghana’s parliamentary and presidential elections. *Firstly, it fails to leave adequate post-election interim period that allows a non-rushed, friction-free, and proper preparation towards hand-over from old to new government on the stipulated date of 7th January. A longer interim period will facilitate, in a more organised and peaceful way, the various post-election transitional preparatory interactions that need to take place prior to handing-over. It will also facilitate the formation of a new government in advance of, and in time for taking office by the President-elect. Secondly, presidential elections in Ghana can always go to a second round, because of the fact that there will always be more than two contesting candidates. This creates the need to factor into the overall election time-table a provision for additional preparation time that is long enough to allow a second and final presidential balloting that is unrushed, smooth, and trouble-free. Currently, the second round presidential balloting takes place in a rush, because of the limited time available to complete all elections in time to meet the official hand-over date of 7th January. *The third reason why a December date is not suitable is because there is always the probability that some elections will be re-scheduled to later dates for various reasons. Such re-scheduling always squeezes the post-election interim period. Fourthly, some election results get challenged by some parties or contestants. These disputed results always create the need for investigation and resolution by the Electoral Commission...... situations that require additional time-input. When all these considerations are factored into the equation, it becomes obvious that the current December date for the holding of our parliamentary and presidential elections, four weeks to the hand-over date of 7th of January, is woefully too late for the facilitation of “trouble-free” elections that lead to “trouble-free” post-election interim and conditions that, in their turn, result in smooth and rancour-free handing over. This, therefore, makes it necessary for the date for these elections to be moved forward to the first or second week of October. That will give between two and three months of interim period between the final completion of all the elections and the date of handing over of government from the outgoing to the in-coming one. It must be remembered that the holding of these two elections was previously scheduled for November. However, because of clash with the American elections, the EC moved our date backwards to December, leading to a serious squeezing of both the time-table for the various electoral processes and the post-election interim period. What baffles me is why the EC did not move these elections farther away from the 7th January hand-over date, instead of moving them closer to it and, thus, creating a time-table “squeeze” that partly accounts for many of the election frictions, tensions, “punches”, and other troubles that have characterised our past elections. *In view of the contribution “trouble-free” elections make towards effective democracy and national unity in a country; and also in view of the fact that past Ghanaian general elections have often, if not always, encountered several serious problems, some of which caused some elections in some stations or constituencies to be re-scheduled, while election results in some other places were cancelled and new dates fixed for their rerun; etc, it is very important for the Electoral Commission to exercise its prerogative, by virtue of powers granted it under Article 51 of the 1992 Constitution, and bring the date for the 2012 general elections and all subsequent future ones forward to the first or second week of October. Should there be any prohibiting law that restrains the EC from bringing the election date forward, may Members of Parliament speedily amend such law in time to enable the Commission to shift the 2012 elections from December to October. Alternatively, the Constitutional Review Commission, which is yet to complete its review and submit its report, should amend the constitution and fix for all our future parliamentary and presidential elections a specific election date that should fall within the first or second week of the month of October. Ghana should not rest till the nation’s electoral records move from good to better, and from better to best. Source: Otchere Darko; [Personal Political Views]. *About the Author: [This appendage is for the information of only readers who get confused about this particular writer because of the name he uses, and who therefore need to know more about him or about the name he uses. Ignore this appendage, if you are not one of such readers.] *This writer is just one of hundreds, and possibly thousands of Ghanaians who use the name “Otchere Darko”, either on its own, or in combination with other names. Some users spell this same name as “Okyere Darko”, while other users conjoin it with the help of a hyphen to become one single compound name, “Otchere-Darko” or “Okyere-Darko”, depending on which spelling-mode they choose. This writer, who has officially used this ‘simple name’ from his school days in the sixties into the seventies and continues to use it officially to this very day, attended the School of Administration of University of Ghana where he finally left in September 1977, the year that students embarked on the “UNIGOV” demonstration. He has never before, or after September 1977 been a student of the Ghana Law School. Up to the end of 1981, he worked as a senior public servant in, and for one of the mainstream Ministries in Ghana. He is not working for, and has never worked at the Danquah Institute. He is currently also not a member of NPP, or of any other party in Ghana. He is not related to any practising Ghanaian politician who uses this same or other name. *May readers concerned, please, take note of this exhaustive clarification and stop drawing wrong conclusions that sometimes lead them to attack a wrong person. Thank you for taking note.