You're standing on Charlotte's 'fair' shoulders; 'don't plunge Ghana into war' – Oye Lithur to Jean Mensa
The Chairperson of Ghana’s Electoral Commission (EC), Mrs Jean Mensa, must know that she is standing on the fair and just shoulders of her predecessors Mrs Charlotte Osei and Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan and, thus, must do her job without fear or favour, a former Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, has said.
“She does not have any choice [but to deliver free and fair elections]”, Oye Lithur told Felicity Naana Nelson on Straight Talk on Class91.3FM on Thursday, 30 May 2019, stressing: “The Electoral Commission Chairperson Mrs Jean Mensa does not have any choice. She is a Ghanaian and she has sworn an oath, she’s supposed to uphold the law, the Constitution of Ghana and the electoral laws. She has to apply those laws without fear or favour”.
The human rights lawyer, who accused Mrs Mensa of bias against the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) in carrying out her duties as EC Chairperson, said: “She has to ensure that she delivers free, fair elections for the people and the Republic of Ghana”, adding: “She is standing on the shoulders of Mrs Charlotte Osei, and Dr Afari Gyan, who have done that, so, it behoves her [to do same]. Her integrity is at stake, her values are at stake, and we’re expecting her to deliver free and fair elections because Ghana is peaceful, and we do not want to be plunged into war, or we don’t want instability and war, so, she doesn’t have a choice. If she applies the law, nobody has a problem with her”.
Asked by the host if the NDC is not merely repeating exactly what the New Patriotic Party (NPP), then in opposition, did to the now-impeached Chairperson Mrs Charlotte Osei, Nana Oye Lithur said: “I do not believe that it is the same thing”, explaining that: “There are clear biases that Jean Mensa has demonstrated”.
Adducing evidence to back her charge of bias against Mrs Mensa, Nana Oye Lithur, who wants to run for the Adentan parliamentary seat on the NDC’s ticket, said: “If you heard the recording, the altercation between her and General Mosquito, Johnson Asiedu Nketia, it’s very clear that there were issues, together with her deputy, I think is he Dr Bossman? They have made audible statements; they have written statements and they have said stuff that call their neutrality as umpires as far as our electoral process is concerned, into question and I believe that’s why the NDC, as a party, is questioning, is raising questions [about their neutrality]”.
Oye Lithur continued: “What I would personally say, I know Jean Mensa personally, very personally. What I would say is that the stability, the progress and peace of Ghana rest on her head as Electoral Commission Chairperson. And she owes that onerous responsibility to be a transparent umpire, to be an umpire and referee with integrity, to be an umpire that ensures that our electoral processes are followed through to the letter…
“So, it is not just words that are flying in the air. There’s concrete evidence and there are instances where Jean Mensa has not conducted herself in a way that we would say that she is an umpire and that she would dispense and implement our electoral laws without fear or favour, and these are the warning signals that the NDC is raising”.
Oye Lithur’s concerns dovetail into similar ones expressed by former President John Mahama, who is the flag bearer of the NDC for the 2020 general elections.
Mr Mahama said a few weeks ago that the posturing of Mrs Mensa does not indicate that she will be neutral in the 2020 polls.
According to him, Mrs Mensa has acted in ways that suggest that representatives of the political parties are a disturbance to the elections management body, a situation Mr Mahama said was unfortunate.
“They need to prove us wrong. We have our doubts that they can be neutral and fair … The current posture and the way they are conducting things makes us doubt that they will be neutral and fair in 2020,” Mr Mahama told Accra-based Citi FM on Monday, 20 May 2019.
He added: “The EC is not a secret society. It is not somebody’s private closet that needs to be shut, and, [we], not know what is going on there… They should open all the process.
“When the EC starts behaving like the representatives of political parties are a nuisance … then this affects the trust and confidence the people have in the EC – a neutral arbiter.”
Touching on the chair of the Commission, Mr Mahama said: “Her posture doesn’t give confidence that she is going to be neutral in this matter,” he stated.
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