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Voter roll debate: Ghana won’t burn – Mahama

Mahama Warns Pink President John Dramani Mahama

Sun, 8 Nov 2015 Source: classfmonline.com

President John Mahama has said Ghana will not burn, despite what he alluded to as the unyielding position taken by the biggest opposition party, as far as the debate on the register of voters is concerned.

Speaking at an event in the Upper East region as part of his #changinglives tour, the President said: “Ghanaians are discerning and it is not right for our democracy that you have a party that claims to be democratic, but in everything claim that is either my way or no way.”

“This country will never burn,” he said, in reference to comments by those pushing for a new voter roll that the cost of war borne out of electoral disagreements far outweighed any amount of money needed to be spent by the country to get a new and credible voter roll for next year’s elections.

He said the ‘my way, or no way’ attitude of the biggest opposition party concerning the debate portends ill for Ghana’s democracy. “In our local language that is what we call ‘patapaa.’”

“If we don’t respect the institutions of democracy, then we have no democracy. And so we all wrote into the Constitution that we shall have an independent electoral commission. NDC is a democratic party, and we shall abide by the principles of democracy and respect anything the commission says and we will win the 2016 election,” he said.

“It is the duty of the Electoral Commission to decide on voters register and we must have respect for the institutions of democracy,” Mr Mahama said.

Pressure group Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) has been at the forefront in pushing for a new register. It is in good company with the New Patriotic Party.

The NPP’s flagbearer, Nana Akufo-Addo, recently told the international community at a programme in Amsterdam that Ghana’s electoral roll is bloated by more than two million names.

“For a country where a margin of 40,000 votes can determine who wins an election, having a register bloated by over two million names is totally unacceptable,” the former attorney general noted.

He said “three out of the five main political parties have called for a new register,” adding that the support from former Presidents John Agyekum Kufuor and Jerry Rawlings for calls by LMVCA for a new register, underscores the need to replace the 2012 register ahead of the 2016 polls.

In separate meetings in Washington DC with think tanks Centre for Global Development and the National Endowment for Democracy, the three-time flagbearer said the most effective means by which the EC can win the confidence of Ghanaians is by compiling a new electoral roll.

According to him, Ghanaians are no longer interested in resorting to the courts to settle electoral disputes, but, rather, prefer a reformation of the country’s electoral process.

Quoting from the CDD’s Afrobarometer report in 2014, which said that public trust in the EC dipped to 42% in 2014, from 80% just before the 2012 elections, the former Attorney General said it was imperative for the EC to restore the confidence of the citizens in the institution by having a new roll.

To firm up his argument, Mr Akufo-Addo also read from the report by the UNDP on Ghana’s Electoral Commission (“Conduct of an Institutional Assessment and the Development a Strategic Plan for the Electoral Commission of Ghana”), issued 2 months ago (16 August 2015), which stressed that: “the EC used to be the most trusted institution in the country; but not anymore.”

The UNDP report, according to Mr Akufo-Addo, concludes by categorically stating that “substantial amount has been invested on the biometric registration and verification; however, there is still no reliable voter register.”

The Police botched two planned pickets of the LMVCA in the heat of their campaign for a new register.

When its leaders visited Mr Rawlings on Wednesday October 14, 2015 to rally support for their cause, the former President said if a new electoral roll will engender confidence in the electoral process as far as the 2016 elections are concerned, then “let’s do it.”

“Everything possible must be done to ensure a very credible electoral process. If this means that we listen to what some of the elders are saying, the Churches etc., to examine what’s going on, to give the registry, the electoral process into the elections a very credible climate, a very credible instrument, platform, I think let’s do it,” Mr Rawlings said.

On the same day, former first lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings said the new Chair of EC Charlotte Osei is in office to do what Ghanaians want, and not what she unilaterally decides for the country, as far as the electoral process is concerned.

Supporting the LMVCA’s cause, Mrs Rawlings told journalists that: “We cannot say that we are going to have credible elections when it is clear that the electoral process is flawed.”

In that regard, she said the Chair of the Commission must listen to groups like the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, LMVCA, and several other political parties, including her own National Democratic Party (NDP), that are clamouring for a “new credible register.”

“Once it has been discovered that some pictures were scanned and pushed into the register, it’s already flawed the register; totally flawed, and once it is flawed, that alone, without talking about all the other issues, shows that something has to be done.

“It is not up to the electoral commissioner to decide that she will, or will not do what the people of Ghana want.

“She is there to do what the people of Ghana want, in consultation with the people that she is working with, and the parties around, not in consultation with: ‘me, myself, and I.’ That’s not it, so, if pictures can be scanned and put onto the register, it already negates it.

“Why don’t you have a new register that will be more credible, [and] make everybody in Ghana happy? If all those recognised groups are saying the same thing, then we cannot all be wrong, and one person is right, so, it is important to revisit it,” She said.

The comments of the Rawlingses came just a day after the Catholic Bishops’ Conference’s statement.

On a similar visit by LMVCA to Mr Rawlings’ successor on the same matter, Mr Kufuor said the EC had no excuse but to compile a new roll.

“I am with you entirely, completely that the Electoral Commission should not plead excuses like cleaning the register and it’s a new chair and I hope she’ll start her tenure with a very clean state…I’ll add my voice and will ask the Electoral Commission to do the right thing” Mr Kufuor said.

According to him, a clean and credible register will save the country a lot of trouble, adding: “I have seen what faulty elections can do to otherwise peaceful people. So the Electoral Commission should listen… The cost of having a faulty election cannot be imagined.”

LMVCA is alleging that more than 76,000 names of persons from neighbouring countries have infiltrated the Ghanaian electoral roll, thus the group’s demand for a new register.

The NDC is opposed to the calls for a new register. Its general secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia has argued ad nausem that the register could be cleaned and used for the general elections, rather than replaced with a totally new one.

President John Mahama, also, recently said on one of his visits outside Ghana that the 2012 register was “relatively young.”

Source: classfmonline.com
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