Member of Parliament for North Tongu Constituency has suggested that the implementation of the Representation of People Amendment Act (ROPAA) should not be rushed until all challenges are cleared and stakeholders assured of credible elections abroad.Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa’s fear is that, the democracy, peace and stability of Ghana are at stake if ROPAA is not deeply thought through and all hurdles removed before it is piloted as disputed elections have been the bane of conflicts.
According to him, his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) is against pressures being mounted on the Electoral Commission (EC) to pilot ROPAA in 2020 in the face of the several challenges.
Speaking at a roundtable meeting organised by the Centre for Democracy (CSD-Ghana) and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, to generate discussion on the implementation of the ROPAA 2006, (Act 699), Mr. Ablakwa stressed that the NDC wants all eligible Ghanaian voters in every part of the world to be able to exercise their franchise.
This means that, instead of conducting ROPAA in just 64 countries with Ghana embassies, it should be piloted in all 193 countries recognised by the United Nations, therefore, the need for stakeholders’ consultation to agree on a feasible approach to the implementation of ROPAA.
“ROPAA must be everywhere and this is the stance of the NDC. Let’s implement it fully. If we’re doing this, let’s do it once and for all. I don’t think Ghana is ready for ROPAA in 2020. The EC is asking for more time and still embarking on stakeholder consultation,” he said.
The Ranking Member of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee said the cost involved in conducting elections is a major challenge which must be first addressed before ROPAA is operationalised.
“How is this going to impact our finances as a country? Do we have the means to able to foot bills? Remember that already there are some elections that as much as 60 per cent of the bills come from international donors. Even with the current limited scope we’re not about to fund it entirely and yet we’re expecting to expand the scope beyond the borders of Ghana and beyond Section 8 of the PNDC Law 284,” he said.
Mr. Ablakwa raised concerns over plans to delegate the role of the EC to Ghanaian Missions abroad who are political appointees and stressed that, that could undermine the credibility of Diaspora elections.
“It’s improper to want to set the role of the EC and give that role to embassies. Article 45 of the Constitution is very clear on the functions of the EC and that matters to do with preparing people to vote are functions of the EC only. So how do embassies come in?… The use of embassies will even defeat the purpose,” he argued.
“Why should political parties have confidence in a process that embassies are being proposed to be in the lead? If the NPP was in opposition and the NDC was in power, will they accept that? Currently one of the issue is the number of appointees we have as ambassadors. Career diplomats are not too happy because of the ratio. There are tensions,” the legislator asserted.