Former Defense Minister, Dr. Benjamin Kumbour has added his voice to calls on the Electoral Commission (EC) to abort its decision to compile a new voters’ register for the 2020 general elections.
The EC has rejected such advice and has scheduled to begin the registration exercise in the last week of June 2020.
Speaking at the 41st anniversary of the June 4th Uprising, Dr. Kumbuor who is also a former MP for Nandom said the EC must consider the risk involved to gathering Ghanaians to register for the new roll in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“It is in this context that the controversy surrounding a new voters register should be situated. This is the time when we talk of integrity and patriotism, it is with the challenges of COVID-19 that we have made the decision to mass our people unnecessarily in a risk to actually re-register especially when there is no scientific evidence whatsoever that the existing register cannot be used for that purpose regardless of the minor imperfections it might contain. We normally say a bird in hand is more than ten in the bush. What happens when we take the entire country through this risk only to end up with a register that is worse than what we have?”
“We of the June 4th use this opportunity to join many of the voices of reason that have spoken of this topic and say that we’re indeed in a new normal and it calls for new conditions. If the idea of a new register was conceived at normal times, the circumstances have radically changed and we need to use the standards of a new normal in our judgement,” he said.
NDC sues EC
The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has sued the Electoral Commission over attempts to compile a new register.
The NDC argues in its suit that the EC lacks the power to go ahead with its plans because it can only “compile a register of voters only once, and thereafter revise it periodically, as may be determined by law.”
According to the writ invoking the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the opposition NDC among other things demanded a “declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 45(a) of the 1992 Constitution, 2nd Defendant [the EC] has the constitutional power to, and can, compile a register of voters only once, and thereafter revise it periodically, as may be determined by law. Accordingly, 2nd Defendant can only revise the existing register of voters, and lacks the power to prepare a fresh register of voters, for the conduct of the December 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.”
The NDC in its case is also praying the court to declare as illegal the decision of the EC not to use the old voter ID cards as registration proof in the compilation of the new register.
The NDC claimed that the decision which is without any justification is arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable and contrary to article 296 of the 1992 Constitution.
“Upon a true and proper interpretation of the Constitution, specifically, Article 42, the EC’s purported amendment of Regulation 1 sub-regulation 3 of the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2016 (C.I 91) through the Public Elections (Registration of Voters)(Amendment) Regulations, 2020 to exclude existing voter identification cards as proof of identification to enable a person apply for registration as a voter according to the NDC is “unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever”.
On the back of this, the Supreme Court has directed the EC to explain why the old voter ID card has been removed from the list of identification particulars for the yet to be compiled new voters’ register.