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The 2020 elections should be postponed

Thu, 6 Aug 2020 Source: Dr. Tom Asiseh

The December Presidential and Parliamentary Elections has to be postponed to enable adequate preparations to be made so that the elections will not be marred with unnecessary errors that will fraught the electioneering process.

We cannot continue to rush a process that will be a grounds for breeding the spread of COVID-19 with a fatality that will be regrettably irreversible.

At least with the hindsight of the recent past, we know the cause for the spike in COVID-19 cases in Ghana and we cannot continue to traverse the same path that has brought us to this painful destination of an upsurge in Covid- 19 infections. We need to wake up to the reality.

The voters registration exercise has been a major contributing factor in shoring up cases of infection but Government is clandestinely working behind the scenes with the Electoral Commission to perpetuate such diabolicalical agenda which will see to their victory in the forthcoming elections in the country.

Despite the several calls by stake holders for the EC not to compile an entirely new voters register, they still remain adamant in the face of the risk that it poses to the thousands and millions of Ghanaians who will go out to register.

Why must Government be so obsessed in planning to win an election that will put lives at risk.

We have seen an increase in the numerical strength of cases of COVID-19 infections in the country due to the gross negligence of good leadership and not only as a result of Ghanaians in the diaspora entering the country.

This misconception has been seriously espoused by some Ghanaians but subsequently, we realised there has been community to community spread which has further excercebated the situation. Government seems to lose control over the situation.

Poor management is very characteristic of the Akufo-Addo Administration and it has been manifestly seen in how Covid- 19 has been managed.

The Government should therefore, as a matter of urgency and priority, open our borders and ports for Ghanaians in the diaspora to come back to reunite with their families whiles taking the necessary measures into consideration.

It is very obvious that due to the incompetence of Government and with Ghanaians also being disillusioned in the NPP, Government wants to frivolously perpetuate itself through any dubious means onto the people.

In the interest of Ghanaians and to safeguard the lives of millions, the voter registration exercise should be elongated until November 2020, so as to allow Ghanaians in the diaspora to get the chance to register to vote in the upcoming elections. We cannot continue to sideline our precious and dear citizens who are dotted all over the world not to take part in the elections.

Prolonging the registration period will reduce the risk of spreading the disease since the EC will not be in a rush registering millions within the limited space of time. People will take their time to go and register to avoid overcrowding at the polling centres.

The Constitution of Ghana never envisaged a period of time when a sitting President will have to work in isolation living the majority of Ghanaians to their fate, yet, the president has to quarantine himself as a precaution. The president, in his opinion, decides to quarantine himself.

Is this too prescribed by the constitution? He did what will best serve his own interest. The hypocritical stance of Government that the elections cannot be postponed defies any logical reasoning that lacks a commonsensical approach to handling matters in trying times as these.

For the President to be very insistent to allow the elections to be conducted despite the risk of exposing many to Covid- 19 cases unfolds how he is insensitive to the plight of Ghanaians. It is a presumptuous proposition for the President to just sit and assume that nothing can be done about this situation and that the constitution does not give room for the postponement of our elections.

There has been divergent legal point of view to the question of what happens in the event that the elections will have to be postponed to a later date. Among the legal argument advanced are:

(a)That the President has the capacity to call for a State of Emergency to increase his tenure and possibly that of Parliament;

(b) That Parliament may, in respect of its residual powers enshrined in Article 298 of the Constitution of Ghana can extend their tenure in parliament through an Act of Parliament passed by them. (c) That the Chief Justice may, take over and act as an interim president until the next election is conducted.

I want to offer my own legal position on this matter subject to Article 113(3). That provision states:

Where, after a dissolution of Parliament but before the holding of a general election, the President is satisfied that owing to the existence of a state of war or of a state of public emergency in Ghana or any part of Ghana, it is necessary to recall Parliament, the President shall have cause to summon the Parliament that has been dissolved to meet.

This clause in the constitution gives constitutional basis for a transitional government waiting for a general election in case Ghana is at war or is faced with State -Of- Emergency.

The President's tenure of office ends concurrently with that of Parliament so how then will the president evoke his powers under Article 113 (3)? The life of Parliament and that of the President end on January 6, 2021 so how will the president be able to exercise such powers without acting in breach of the constitution. There is going to be a needles constitutional crises .

In my view, the best way forward to activate Article 113(3) is to be done sooner than later before the life of Parliament ends. In view of that, it behoves the incumbent President whose term would expire with that of Parliament at midnight on 6 January 2021 to activate that constitutional provision now. If we wait for the President's mandate to expire, it renders him impotent under the constitution to evoke such powers.

The President issuing the instrument prior to the expiration of his tenure, will empower the Speaker of Parliament, acting as the president, to form a transitional government which will manage the affairs of the State temporarily. The elections could however be conducted in February 2021 or anytime reasonably appropriate.

I, Dr. Tom Asiseh, who has the interest of Ghanaians at heart, implore Government to expedite processes that will put the safety of Ghanaians at the fore devoid of any partisan consideration. I am the best alternative since the masses are disillusioned in the NPP and NDC kind of leadership which has plunged us into the trenches.

I am ready to put the interest of Ghanaians to the fore irrespective of one's political coloration. Ghana is for you and me, and for us all. I am the Best Choice for Better Lives.

God bless Mother Ghana.

Dr. Tom Asiseh

(Independent Presidential Aspirant, 2020)

Columnist: Dr. Tom Asiseh

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