Three political parties have tasked opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) members of parliament to be firm and reject proposal by the Electoral commission to introduce a new constitutional Instrument (CI) seeking to make the Ghana card sole verification document in acquiring a voter’s Identification card.
The group under the auspices of third force Alliance comprised of PNC, GUM and PPP has called on the NDC members of parliament not to align with the ruling government, urging the opposition NDC to mobilize all its arsenals to stop the CI from becoming a law.
Third force Alliance believes the new CI is “obnoxious” and “unconstitutional” and would disenfranchise millions of voters if allowed to become a law.
Under the new CI, the Ghana card will be the only identification document for voter registration- a move the NDC party, civil society organisations as well as former Electoral Commission chairman, Dr Kwadjo Afari Gyan have opposed arguing that it will disqualify Ghanaians.
Spokesperson for the group, Awudu Ishaq who is also the National communications secretary for the PNC speaking at a media briefing in Accra tasked the NDC MP’s to “do everything humanly possible to stop the Constitutional Instrument from becoming law”.
Read the full statement:
Good Morning Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen of the press for your time this morning.
We are here today as a Coalition of Political Parties under the broad banner of the “THIRD FORCE ALLIANCE” comprising the PNC, PPP, and GUM with a keen stake and interest in the forward match of Ghana’s Democracy and Governance as enjoined on us by the Political Parties Act passed by the Parliament of Ghana (ACT 574).
You would agree that we have been the real smaller parties judging from our performances election after election since 1992.
For the number three position in Ghana’s election over the years, it has either been the PNC, PPP or GUM.
So no other political party can purport to commit us to a matter as critical as this Proposed Constitutional Instrument without our consent.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have followed with keen interest, the discourse in Parliament and in mainstream media, about the Electoral Commission’s intention to introduce a Constitutional Instrument before Parliament, which C.I seeks to make the Ghana Card the sole document for proof of one’s citizenship for the purposes of registration of voters.
We have thus taken pains to meticulously study in detail the various provisions and contents of the said Constitutional Instrument, Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Instrument, 2022, which the EC is seeking to lay before the august house of Parliament.
Having perused this C.I, we wish to state using forum of a press conference without any equivocation that same must be rejected by Parliament and not allowed to mature and become a law.
We hold the view that this Constitutional Instrument is not only obnoxious and unconstitutional, but it is inimical to the tenets of participatory democracy in a country like ours.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, we have rather also observed with nostalgia the spirited attempts by the Electoral Commission to push and literally railroad this Constitutional Instrument through the process, despite some of its very objectionable provisions that have occasioned numerous calls by well-meaning Ghanaians and identifiable stakeholders on the EC to abreast itself with the dangers and repercussions that this Constitutional Instrument poses to Ghana’s nascent democracy.
It is important for us to further state without doubt, that this Constitutional Instrument will lead to the disenfranchisement of millions of Ghanaians and thereby occasion unjustifiable voter suppression should it be allowed to stand in its current form.
For the avoidance of doubt, Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution guarantees every Ghanaian citizen who is eighteen years and above and of sound mind, the inalienable right to register and vote in public elections and referenda.
This very Constitution further enjoins the Electoral Commission in Article 45 to undertake programs for the expansion of the registration of voters, and not to limit or restrict the registration of voters as the Electoral Commission is seeking to do through this absurd Constitutional Instrument.
We further note with bleeding hearts that the teething challenges that continue to bedevil the Ghana Card Registration process makes this newly proposed Constitutional Instrument even more objectionable.
Apart from logistical and network concerns, we now know that the operations of the National Identification have been hamstrung by financial constraints.
These financial challenges, as the NIA itself has disclosed, have led to 3.5 million blank cards being locked up in a bonded warehouse due to the NIA’s indebtedness to its private partner, Identity Management System (IMS), while another 645,663 cards are yet to be issued to Ghanaians who have completed their registrations.
Additionally, about 631,847 cards have not been printed, while as we speak, an estimated 2.5 million Ghanaians are yet to be registered in the first place.
Our friends from the media, you would agree with us that apart from these impediments in acquiring the Ghana Card, the Electoral Commission is proposing to completely abandon its own guarantor system which has been integrated into L.I 2111(2012), the very law regulating the issuance of the Ghana Card.
We are therefore convinced that, this attempt to make the Ghana Card the sole document for the identification of Ghanaians, can only be construed as a devious plot by the Jean Mensah-led Electoral Commission acting in cahoots with the failed Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government to subvert the inalienable right of millions of Ghanaians.
Moreover Ladies and Gentlemen, the decision by the EC to abandon the registration of voters at Polling Stations and Electoral Area levels for registration at District Centers would hugely disenfranchise a greater majority of prospective voters considering the geographical outlook of the Districts across the country.
This arrangement would require people to travel long distances in order to access the registration centers at the Districts.
Apart from inconveniencing prospective voters, this will further place a financial burden on the very Ghanaians whose economic and financial circumstances have been worsened by the incompetent, insensitive and clueless economic management approach of the Akufo-Addo government as these prospective voters would be required to pay exorbitant lorry fares to get to the Registration Centers at the various District Capitals.
This is unacceptable to any sane and objective-minded Ghanaian and must not be allowed to happen.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the unpopular decision by the Electoral Commission to expunge the guarantor system from the proposed Constitutional Instrument as a form of Identification for the purposes of voter registration is curious, untenable and inexplicable to us.
Why would the Electoral Commission accept a Ghana Card which can be procured through the guarantor system as proof of citizenship at the National Identification Authority but cannot allow same or similar guarantor system for voter registration? At worst, the Electoral Commission which claims that its guarantor system has been flawed can adopt the so-called robust guarantor system from the National Identification Authority for itself.
Why is the Electoral Commission subjugating its constitutionally-guaranteed independence to some other institution such as the National Identification Authority? This decision cannot be said to be capable of enhancing the sanctity of the electoral roll and must not be accepted.
We have also not forgotten that landmark ruling in the Abu Ramadan case at the Supreme Court which formed the basis for the compilation of a new voters register in the run up to the 2020 elections in the midst of Covid-19 and the dangers it posed to Ghanaians and the financial burden placed on the public purse.
Taking a cue from that case, we want to state here that we are aware of the diabolical plans of the Electoral Commission and its allies most notably the New Patriotic Party to sponsor surrogates to challenge the validity of the current register when the CI becomes law since the register contains names of people who registered using other means of identification other than the Ghana Card.
This diabolic intent among others amount to bad faith and mischief by the Jean-Mensa led Electoral Commission which is in a hurry to go down as the worst administrative set-up ever at the EC.
We however believe there is still a window of opportunity for the Electoral Commission to open its doors wider consultations to allow for some level of consensus to be built in promulgating a law that is so critical to the electoral fortunes and democratic consolidation in Ghana.
Fortunately, the position we have taken has been backed by similar calls from the revered Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan as well as the reputable Center for Democratic Development (CDD) among others for the Electoral Commission to have a second look at the proposed Constitutional Instrument.
Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan minced no words in advising Madam Jean Mensa and the Electoral Commission not to expunge the guarantor system from the voter registration requirements.
We hold the view that the Electoral Commission must heed such a call from Dr Afari Gyan and others as this is the only way to engender the confidence and collective buy-in of the Ghanaian people in this proposed Constitutional Instrument.
The Electoral Commission must be reminded that anything short of this, we are unreservedly opposed to such and we call on Parliament especially the Minority Group to do everything humanly possible to stop the Constitutional Instrument from becoming law.
Let it be on record that we are not in any way opposed to the Electoral Commission and we are not attempting to put any impediments on its way in the performance of its constitutional mandate.
However, as political actors and citizens we have the solemn duty of contributing to protect the sanctity of our democracy.
We shall stand up in defense of the many silent and incapacitated Ghanaians who are worried and concerned by the looming danger posed by the intransigence of the EC as contained in the current form and structure of proposed Constitutional Instrument.
Story by: Emmanuel Coffie/radiogoldlive.com