General News of Fri, 9 Oct 2015162
2016 polls: Flawed register could spark violence – Jake
The results of the forthcoming December 2016 elections could be “violently challenged” if the current “flawed” electoral roll is used rather than a new register; that is the warning from former Chairman of the main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey.
Joining the debate on whether or not a new register is needed for next year’s general elections, Mr Obetsebi-Lamptey said the current register is bloated by about four million names, and warned that its use “can lead to a situation where election results will be challenged violently.”
He said a new register must be “fought for by all Ghanaians because the democracy belongs to all Ghanaians.”
In his view, the Electoral Commission must listen to all concerns about the register and factor them into preparations for next year’s election.
“It is not a decision for just one institution to take. Institutions belong to the people of this country and their decision must reflect the will of the people,” he told Neat FM’s morning show Friday.
The former Tourism Minister’s take on the debate comes a day after President John Mahama said: “I have no right to interfere in that electoral list,” in response to a reporter’s question concerning the insistence of pro-opposition group Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) that there necessarily must be a new register for the next elections.
"....We have an independent Electoral Commission and the Electoral Commissioners have security of office. I am not supposed to interfere in the work of the electoral commission. Ghana has an EC that is independent and does not consult the president to do anything.
“What we have done in the past when you have a young register is to clean it up…so it is for the Electoral Commission to decide what it really needs to do,” the President noted.
LMVCA recently filed a petition at the Human Rights Council of the United Nations General Assembly against the Government of Ghana and the country’s Police Chief for “human rights violations,” in relation to brutalities launched at them by the Police when they attempted picketing the country’s Electoral Commission over their concerns with the electoral roll.
In the petition filed by Kwame Agyeman-Budu, Ibrahim Sanni, Issah Ballah and Mujeeb Mogtaari on September 30, 2015, the group accused the Government of Ghana of “violating the international human rights of the country and the people,” by “deliberating using their control of state institutions to turn the country into a police totalitarian state.”
In the view of the petitioners, the Police’s use of force and the court to prevent the group from picketing the country’s Electoral Commission on two separate occasions as part of their demand for a new electoral roll ahead of the 2016 general elections is a breach of: UN Charter, Chapter 1, Article 1 (3); the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right.
The Police botched the pickets with an explanation that the Commission is a security installation.
On the group’s first attempt, the Police fired tear gas and water cannons at the demonstrators, as well as beat some of them up with truncheons and cudgels, for, allegedly, veering off agreed routes for the protest activity.
The second attempt was thwarted by a restraining order from the court.
Apart from insisting that the EC is a security installation, which cannot accommodate picketing, the Police Service said it gathered intelligence that indicated that robbers and criminals posed a threat to the country’s security, and, therefore, could not spare any officers to safeguard a picket.
Leaders of the group accused the Police of trumping up excuses to frustrate their protest.
When she spoke on the issue for the first time, the Chair of the EC, Charlotte Osei told Journalists at a press conference that the EC “is a security installation to the extent that at least, for nothing else, we have a data centre here, which carries very sensitive information and biometric details of 14 million Ghanaians.”
She demanded clarity on what the Alliance meant by picketing. “It depends on what you call picketing and they will have to define that.”
“You have to recognise that we have lives here, work is ongoing. As much as people have the right to demonstrate, others have the right to go about their duties normally,” Mrs Osei said.
“There are also people, who come to our premises to transact business with us, they should have the right to go about that business properly, and we also have assets here, which were bought with taxpayers’ money, which need to be also protected, so if the picketing is going to be disruptive to all that then I will have a problem with that personally… so I will have a problem with picketing to the extent that I don’t know how disruptive it would be to business and to safeguarding the lives of my staff and the Commission's properties, otherwise if you are going to picket on a park, why not?” she added.