Deliver credible elections - President Akufo-Addo charges EC
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has urged the Electoral Commission (EC) to organise efficient, diligent and impartial elections to deliver results credible by all standards.
The President said he was confident he would gain the mandate of the people in the 2020 elections not through manipulations or support from the EC but through free, fair and transparent elections on the strength of his work.
He, therefore, gave the government’s assurance to continue to offer the EC the needed support to be able to execute its mandate efficiently and provide Ghanaians with an impartial, transparent elections body that executed its mandate with integrity.
EC’s courtesy call
President Akufo-Addo made the call when the Chairperson of the EC, Mrs Jean Mensa, and some members of the commission paid a courtesy call on him, as part of the last leg of the commission’s consultations with its stakeholders, at the Jubilee House in Accra.
The EC has consulted with all the three living former Presidents — Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor and John Dramani Mahama — political parties, religious leaders, among other stakeholders.
“I do not need the support of the EC to win an election,” the President said, adding that he would want to win polls in which the electorate had the opportunity to make a free and open choice.
He said the government’s duty to all independent state institutions was to offer them the maximum support for them to deliver their mandates, as defined by the Constitution.
“I don’t believe that other than the law, a President has any more of a stake in the democratic system in Ghana than a citizen; we are all on the same pedestal in wanting our democracy to work,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo said Ghanaians were yearning for an election management body that was not partisan or open to manipulation but a commission that should ensure that the ballots cast by the people represented unvarnished verdicts of their will and that was what should take place in any well-functioning democracy.
He said any interference with that would lead to the distortion of the popular will of the people, for which reason the EC must work with integrity, which should not be the subject of manipulation of anybody, a situation absolutely vital for the direction the people had decided to go.
Touching on the Representation of the People’s Amendment Law (ROPAL), the President said its implementation was within the remit of the EC and urged it to take steps for its operationalisation to be realised.
He also called on the EC to look at practices in those countries, especially those in Africa, that had a similar regime.
He said countries such as Mali and Senegal had national identity cards that established the citizens’ nationality, which also ruled out any contention about those eligible to vote outside the country and urged the EC to take that into consideration.
He expressed surprise that there were no sanctions for political parties that flouted the rules and regulations governing political party organisation, especially those parties that failed to fulfill their constitutional requirements, stating that a party must have branches in all the regions and, in addition, be organised in not less than two-thirds of the districts in each region.
“If you are required to have offices in two-thirds of the country and you don’t, there should be some consequences,” he warned.
President Akufo-Addo commended the EC for the reorganisation it had embarked on to ensure an efficient commission with enhanced institutional capacity and proper conditions of service for its staff, as well as governance structures geared towards bringing quality service to the people.
Reacting to comments by Mrs Mensa that the EC was asked by its information technology (IT) vendor to provide $56 million for an upgrade of its system, $4 million for yearly maintenance and $1.5 million yearly Internet service provision, the President described it as alarming news.
He wondered why, after paying all the sums of money, the vendors of the IT system still had monopoly over it and could shut it down at any time.
The President, therefore, commended the EC for taking steps to halt the contract.
He said every move by the EC must be to ensure its independence, with the overall goal to own and control its data, processes and systems and be able to serve its mandate to the people with greater assurance and confidence.
That, he said, would prove to the people that the EC was “being freed from a situation of capture from foreign elements, a move that must attract the interest all Ghanaians”.
President Akufo-Addo was of the strong conviction that the stability of the Fourth Republic was due to the way the democratic process had been evolving and strengthening and gave an assurance that the government would support state institutions to deliver their mandate to grow the process.