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IPAC meeting successful despite NDC boycott, says EC

Jean Mensa, Electoral Commissioner (EC)

Jean Mensa, Chairperson of the Electoral Commissioner (EC)

The Electoral Commission has finally announced that mass voter registration will start from the last week of June and end in the last week of July.

The EC says the Inter-Party Advisory Committee meeting on Wednesday to discuss preparations for the compilation of a new voter’s register achieved its aim. This was despite the absence of the country’s largest opposition party – the National Democratic Congress.

The NDC boycotted the discussions over claims that the meeting had not been arranged properly.

Heavy security

Peter Boamah Otokunor, a deputy general secretary of the NDC, explained: “That meeting does not constitute a proper IPAC meeting because they had divided one committee into groups – you may want to call it double-tracking – to decide on the same issue.

“And we think that with any such an approach, you are not going to properly appreciate and understand the issue and contributions from various political parties and we believe that decision-making will be problematic.”

The meeting went ahead, however, amid heavy security.

With this development, it appears the NDC’s concerns and stiff opposition regarding a new voters’ register for the 2020 election may not hold.

The NDC has repeatedly kicked against the election management body’s decision to compile a new register. Equally, the EC has maintained that it will act in line with its decision.

Financial pressures

Civil society organisations including IMANI Africa have also kicked against the decision to renew the electoral roll.

The call for a new voters’ register emerged strongly from the then opposition NPP in the lead-up to the 2016 election. This culminated in a series of demonstrations by the Let My Vote Count Alliance, led by David Asante. However, citing financial constraints, the EC failed to heed the call.

The Mass Action Committee (MAC), a pro-NPP civil society organisation that describes itself as pro-democracy, waded into the brouhaha on Wednesday, saying that Ghana needs a new voter register to ensure transparency in the 2020 election and beyond.

The convenor for the MAC, Atik Mohammed, a former general secretary of the People’s National Convention, said a voter register was no longer an option, but an urgent necessity.

Fightback failed?

Speaking to the press after the IPAC meeting, the deputy chair of the Electoral Commission, Bossman Asare, said protocols have been put in place to ensure that voting proceeds without incident.

“We also announced to them the protocols we have put in place to ensure that the voting process is very, very peaceful, safe and secured.”

He added that the processes for registering new voters have also been explained to the political parties.

According to Dr Asare, a Ghana Card and/or a passport are still the requirements for registration.

“But in the event that you don’t have a Ghana Card, and you don’t also have the passport . . . two people who are registered to vote can guarantee for you to be able to register,” he said.

Compilation of a new voters’ register will proceed according to the Electoral Commission’s plans as first announced, despite a fightback by the NDC.

The EC announced its position on Wednesday, directly after the meeting of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee. Registration will begin in June this year and last for 40 days.

The EC says it will observe all necessary health protocols during the registration process.

The election is expected in December. The incumbent, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, is seeking a second term in office; his rival John Dramani Mahama, the former president, is seeking to displace him and return to serve a final term. Voting will also take place for seats in Parliament.

Charles Credence

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