January 10, 2020. Story by ALFRED AHIATSI
*PRESS STATEMENT BY THE COALITION OF POLITICAL PARTIES IN SUPPORT OF THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION’S MOVE TO ACQUIRE A NEW BIOMETRIC VOTER MANAGEMENT SOLUTION AHEAD OF THE 2020 GENERAL ELECTIONS IN ORDER TO ENHANCE THE CREDIBILITY OF THE ELECTIONS*
Ladies and gentlemen of the press
We have invited you this afternoon to state our position as political parties on the ongoing national conversation regarding the EC’s proposal to acquire a new Biometric Voter Management Solution to enable the commission to compile new voters register ahead of the 2020 General Elections. We shall also use this platform to respond to some deliberate distortions and lies largely being spearheaded by the NDC and one or two minority parties that are against the compilation of a new voters register.
First of all, as political parties, we acknowledge the fact that the Electoral Commission is the constitutional body that is ceased with the appropriate jurisdiction to administer all public elections in the country, and one of its key functions in this regard has to do with the compilation of the voters’ register. Article 45 of the 1992 Constitution and Section 2 of the Electoral Commissions Act (Act 451) state in part that the electoral commission shall compile the register of voters and revise it at such periods as may be determined by law.
The constitution, in Article 51 also mandates the EC to make regulations for the effective performance of its functions particularly for the registration of voters and for the conduct of public elections. We also recognize that by reason of Article 46, the Electoral Commission is an independent body that is not subject to the direction or control of any person or authority in the performance of its functions except as provided in the constitution.
In view of these explicit provisions, when elections do not go well in this country, it is the EC that will be faulted because it is the only constitutional body responsible for the conduct of elections. It is, therefore, a legal obligation on all stakeholders including political parties and civil society organizations to support and cooperate with the Electoral Commission to discharge its constitutional mandate and NOT seek to direct the EC on how to perform its functions.
Political parties are however free to make suggestions and recommendations to the Commission for its consideration and possible adoption. This is because political parties are undoubtedly the number one stakeholders in the conduct of elections, and that is why the nation has a special purpose vehicle known as the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) which serves as an opportune platform for political parties and the EC to meet and deliberate on matters of concern in relation to the core functions of the EC.
Even though IPAC has only a consultative and advisory role, it has been of great importance in building trust among political parties and in generating proposals for electoral reforms to enhance the nation’s electoral system. And indeed, almost all the major electoral reforms that we have witnessed in this country from 1996 till date have been spearheaded by political parties through IPAC. It is therefore important for the Electoral Commission (EC) to maintain a close relationship with IPAC and strengthen its engagement with the political parties on issues relating to electoral processes.