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“7 December must be a Ghanaian, not a West African, election,” says Akufo-Addo

President Akufo-Addo urges all eligible Ghanaians to register to vote so that they can exercise their civic responsibility on 7 December 2020

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says it must be the collective responsibility of Ghanaians to ensure that the country has a register fit for purpose for the conduct of the 7 December presidential and parliamentary elections.

“We must all make sure that persons who do not meet the requirements, as set out clearly in the Constitution, do not find their names into the register. If you aid the registration of an ineligible person, and you are caught, you will face the full rigours of the law,” he said

Addressing the nation on Monday 29 June 2020, in anticipation of the start of the voter registration exercise on 30 June 2020, the president said: “The election on 7 December must be a Ghanaian election, not a West African election, conducted with a voter register of Ghanaians. That is the only way the true will of the Ghanaian people can manifest.”

Right to vote

President Akufo-Addo urged all eligible Ghanaians to go out and register so that they can exercise their civic responsibility on 7 December 2020, to elect a government of their choice in a free, fair, peaceful and transparent election.

“Using your God-given and constitutional rights costs nothing, but staying home can come at a very steep price. The pandemic, notwithstanding, we have to strengthen Ghanaian democracy,” he said.

Describing the compilation of the voters’ register as one of the most important tasks in the effective functioning of any democracy, President Akufo-Addo said if an eligible citizen’s name is not on the register, that citizen cannot exercise the right to vote and cannot, therefore, participate in the determination of the choice of the government of the day.

President Akufo-Addo said, “It is thus vitally important that all eligible voters register, so, on the designated day of 7 December, they can vote to choose the president of the nation, and the Member of Parliament of their area. In effect, our vote, our thumb, is the expression of our individual sovereign power as a citizen, which we should cherish and guard at all times.”

Register now, vote later

He reassured all eligible voters of their safety at the 33,327 polling stations across the country, explaining that the Electoral Commission has put in place elaborate protocols to support the process.

“All these protocols should be adhered to strictly. Additionally, I want to remind all Ghanaians that all the other protocols and restrictions, especially those dealing with large gatherings, must be adhered to and enforced at the polling stations at all times.

“So, let us all abide by them, and conduct ourselves in a manner befitting the image and status of Ghana,” he said.

The president said, “If you do not register now, you cannot vote in December. Present your Ghana Card or passport, which are the only two forms of valid identification. In the absence of any of these valid IDs, an applicant can submit one completed Identification Guarantee Form, endorsed by two registered voters, to be registered and issued with a voter ID card.

“By these procedures, all eligible voters will be registered. No disenfranchisement of voters is contemplated by them.”

December polls must take place

With some arguing that, in the midst of a pandemic, the compilation of a new register and, indeed, the conduct of presidential and parliamentary elections should be put on hold and scheduled for a later date, when the pandemic is over, President Akufo-Addo said, “That is not possible.”

He said the constitution of Ghana makes no provision for the extension of the mandate of the president, who wields executive power, beyond four years.

“To exercise executive power in the Ghanaian state, you must be duly elected by the Ghanaian people. You must have their freely expressed consent. On 7 January 2021, when my mandate as the current president expires, a duly elected person must be ready to be sworn in as President of the Republic.

“There is no other way, and, in order to forestall any needless constitutional controversy which could throw our nation into jeopardy, we must vote on 7 December 2020. The same applies to Parliament.

“We should not fear or be alarmed. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, elections are being properly conducted in many nations across the globe.”

Citing examples of countries such as South Korea, Poland, Mali and Malawi, all of which have held elections despite the pandemic, President Akufo-Addo said that “surely, it is not beyond Ghana to join these nations in organising a successful general election”.

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