General News of Tue, 13 Oct 201576

Clergy: New electoral roll needed if bloating claims true

Ghana must have a new electoral roll for the 2016 elections if bloating, double, as well as alien registration allegations are proven to be true; that is the suggestion of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference.

In a statement signed by the Conference’s President, Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu, the Catholic clergy said the need for a credible register for the December elections is very critical, thus the need for all claims of anomalies to be investigated and redressed.

The group said, “allegations of over 76,000 names of persons from neighbouring countries discovered in the current register must be investigated and the proper process be conducted if the allegations are found to be true.”

“If this and other allegations are found to be true, it will be necessary to have a new voters register to enable people to have confidence in the electoral process,” the Clergy recommended.

The main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) and groups sympathetic to its cause, claim apart from minors on the register, some Togolese also crossed the border into Ghana to register when the exercise was opened ahead of the last elections. They also claim there are several multiple registrants on the roll, thus sullying its integrity and trustworthiness.

Pressure group, Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) has been the protagonist in pushing for a new register.

Speaking on the matter on Monday, October 12, flagbearer of the NPP, Nana Akufo-Addo said inasmuch as the new Chair of the Electoral Commission must be given some time to settle in her new role, Charlotte Osei must also act quickly to address the concerns of the various groups and parties.

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The Bishops’ Conference said in its statement that the EC must make sure Ghana goes to the next elections with a credible roll.

Below is the Conference’s full statement:

PRESS STATEMENT OF THE GHANA CATHOLIC BISHOPS' CONFERENCE ON THE VOTERS REGISTER


Preamble

We, the members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, have observed the many calls for a new voters register as Ghana gets ready for the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections.

We commend the Electoral Commission, which, in keeping with its mandate of compiling the register of voters and revising same at such periods as determined by law, has requested all political parties and civil society organisations to make presentations at a stakeholders’ workshop to be organised by the commission on the state of the voters register.

It is our hope and prayer that all stakeholders, but, most especially, political parties that have been contacted to present inputs into the exercise, will be honest and truthful in their contributions in order to enable the Electoral Commission to conduct a fair, transparent and honest exercise to win the confidence of the Ghanaian public in the register and the electoral process as a whole.

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Current Voters Register

The current voters register was compiled in 2012. The voter population recorded in the register was around 14 million out of a national population of about 25 million (2010 Population Census). Since the exhibition of the voters register in 2012, many have questioned the credibility of the said register.

Among the concerns raised regarding the current register are the registration of minors as voters, the voter population for the presidential elections being greater than the voter population for parliamentary elections, the registration of aliens as voters in Ghana’s elections and the high number of registered voters relative to the current population of Ghana.

We are aware of some efforts being made by the Electoral Commission to ensure that the voters register is credible enough for the 2016 general election and pray that these efforts will yield the desired results.

Importance of a Credible Voters Register

We re-emphasise and lend our support for the inalienable right enshrined in article 42 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana that “every citizen of Ghana of 18 years of age and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purpose of public elections and referenda”. The voters register therefore constitutes the official list of eligible electors and is a prima facie evidence of the elector’s right to vote.

We believe that the voters register is not just one additional element to the electoral process: it is in fact a crucial factor in the establishment and consolidation of a democratic system of governance. To inspire confidence and credibility in the voters register, as we prepare for the 2016 general election, it is crucial that the voters register should be comprehensive, accurate and continuously updated.

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In the process of updating the voters register, the Electoral Commission must not disregard the calls to avoid the registration of minors and non-Ghanaian citizens, to use qualified and adequately trained personnel for the registration process and to ensure transparent identification and verification of eligible and registered voters.

Recommendations

We, the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, while acknowledging the prospects and challenges that confront a genuine call for a trustworthy voters register, wish to make the following recommendations:

1. That the Electoral Commission shall endeavour to register all citizens of Ghana who have attained 18 years and above and are of sound mind, resident or ordinarily resident in an electoral area and not prohibited from registering as a voter.

2. That the Electoral Commission, the political parties and other stakeholders will jointly guarantee and safeguard the process of registering persons qualified for voting for the 2016 general election.

3. That the necessary resources and logistics should be made available by the government to the Electoral Commission, so that it can be sufficiently equipped for the task of updating the voters register and make it worthy of confidence.

4. That the allegations of over 76,000 names of persons from neighbouring countries discovered in the current register must be investigated and the proper process be conducted if the allegations are found to be true. If this and other allegations are found to be true, it will be necessary to have a new voters register to enable people to have confidence in the electoral process.

5. That the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) should also be resourced to educate the citizenry on the qualification of voters. This education must be sustained throughout the year so that the message sinks into everybody.

Conclusion

The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference believes that the time has come for all of us, as citizens of Ghana, to work conscientiously to satisfy the need to strike the right balance to ensure integrity of the voters register and the need for flexibility to ensure that the peoples’ right to register and vote is safeguarded.

It is our prayer that every Ghanaian will mean well and contribute to make the mandate of the Electoral Commission in compiling the register of voters and revising same for a more trustworthy electoral roll especially for the 2016 general election.

May the Lord God provide for us a peaceful, credible, free and fair electoral process.

Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu

Bishop of Konongo-Mampong and President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference

Source: Class FM

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