The Coalition of Domestic Observers (CODEO) says there is an urgent need for the Electoral Commission, stakeholders including political parties and Civil Society Organizations to meet and fashion out a way to address the ensuing controversy over the EC’s proposed electoral reforms.
CODEO said the move has become necessary following the rising tension between the EC and some opposition parties.
There is an ensuing brouhaha over the EC’s decision to compile a new voters’ register as well as upgrade its election management system.
The processes are to be undertaken with some GHS390 million approved by Parliament weeks ago for that and other purposes.
But a number of stakeholders including some opposition parties and Civil Society Organizations have kicked against the EC’s intention, urging it to at least consider it after the 2020 polls.
Some other political parties including the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) and pro-government social groups have thrown their weights behind the EC, although the NDC and the others have vowed to resist the EC’s move, fueling tension in recent times.
CODEO in its statement on the matter said the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) which has for many years been the platform for discussing and resolving election administration disputes must be used to address the ensuing controversy.
“CODEO believes that the IPAC mechanism has served this country very well over the years and should be a platform to be utilized to address election administration disputes,” it indicated.
It said the “high degree of mutual suspicion and mistrust between the ruling and opposition political parties,” makes it important for IPAC, to meet as soon as possible.
“The best way to get a resolution around these issues and to move the process forward is by providing an avenue for dialogue and consultation which also recognizes the constitutional mandate of the EC guided by several subsidiary rules to administer and manage the electoral processes in Ghana, and bearing in mind the electoral timetable. At the same time, the EC needs to acknowledge that not all electoral administration and related disputes are just a matter of law, but of political governance which requires transparency, accountability and the building of trust between the Election Management Body (EMB) and all stakeholders, including the general public,” CODEO noted.
Other recommendations it made in its statement include;
- CODEO is committed to the pursuit of a free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections on December 7, 2020. A credible voters register is essential to laying the foundation for a free and fair elections. CODEO is aware that by convention, the voters register must be ready at least three months to the election date to avoid any constitutional complications.
- CODEO, thus, welcomes the recommendation of the Eminent Persons Advisory Body of the EC for an extended IPAC meeting to further discuss the issues towards building a national consensus on the way forward. CODEO recommends that the Advisory body extends this engagement to other stakeholders such as CSOs which have raised substantial issues on this matter. CODEO believes it should be possible for stakeholders to ascertain the true state of the EC’s IT infrastructure in respect of the existing register, and whether or not it can deliver credible elections on December 7, 2020. Similarly, it should be easy to verify the prices of goods and services being sourced by the EC.
- CODEO further believes that even if the EC has to proceed with its plans to compile a new register, it is important for the EC to invest time and energy to engage stakeholders and the general public on why it has taken its decisions, share relevant information and address any lingering concerns from stakeholders. This is important in building trust and enhancing the credibility of the EC going into the December election.
- Finally, it is important for all electoral stakeholders, including the EC, political parties and citizens to work diligently to rid ourselves of the mistrust and suspicion that continue to characterize our electoral process and constantly threaten our democratic stability. Significantly, all stakeholders should ensure that this will be the last election year that the voters register becomes an issue of contestation. The country has made significant progress in its electoral administration over the past two decades for a voters register to always become a matter of dispute in every election year. All stakeholders must be part of a solution that ensures that under age voters and foreigners do not register during these exercises. In that regard, there has to be a credible plan to ensure that even if the EC goes forward with compiling a new register, it will be the last time it physically collects biometric data.
Meanwhile, the NDC and other opposition parties that have formed a coalition to challenge the decision of the EC to compile a new register and overhaul election IT infrastructure have suspended the planned series of demonstrations over the matter.
The NDC’s National Chairman, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo at the second demonstration in Kumasi on Tuesday [January 21, 2020] said the suspension is to allow for the EC’s Eminent Persons Advisory Body to intervene to get the EC to grant them audience at an IPAC meeting.