Coalition of Political Parties under the broad banner, “THIRD FORCE ALLIANCE” made up of PNC, PPP, GUM CPP has kicked against the Electoral Commission’s proposal sent to Parliament seeking for the use of Ghana Card as the sole proof of citizenship.
This was made known at a press conference organized by the Coalition and presented by its spokes person, Mr. Awudu Ishaq, the National Communications Secretary for PNC.
He said the Coalition is aware of the diabolical plans of the Electoral Commission and the New Patriotic Party, to sponsor surrogates to challenge the validity of the current register when the CI becomes law since the register contains names of people who registered using other means of identification other than the Ghana Card. “This diabolic intent among others amount to bad faith and mischief by the Jean-Mensa led Electoral Commission which is in a hurry to go down as the worst administrative set-up ever at the EC”.
“Let it be on record that we are not in any way opposed to the Electoral Commission and we are not attempting to put any impediments on its way in the performance of its constitutional mandate. However, as political actors and citizens we have the solemn duty of contributing to protect the sanctity of our democracy. We shall stand up in defense of the many silent and incapacitated Ghanaians who are worried and concerned by the looming danger posed by the intransigence of the EC as contained in the current form and structure of proposed Constitutional Instrument”.
The Coalition therefore, is calling on Parliament to reject the Electoral Commission’s proposed Constitutional Instrument seeking to make Ghana Card the sole proof of citizenship.
Mr. Ishaq said, the unpopular decision by the Electoral Commission to expunge the guarantor system from the proposed Constitutional Instrument as a form of Identification for the purposes of voter registration is curious, untenable and inexplicable to them. “Why would the Electoral Commission accept a Ghana Card which can be procured through the guarantor system as proof of citizenship at the National Identification Authority but cannot allow same or similar guarantor system for voter registration? At worst, the Electoral Commission which claims that its guarantor system has been flawed can adopt the so-called robust guarantor system from the National Identification Authority for itself. Why is the Electoral Commission subjugating its constitutionally-guaranteed independence to some other institution such as the National Identification Authority? This decision cannot be said to be capable of enhancing the sanctity of the electoral roll and must not be accepted”.
He pointed out that, the decision by the EC to abandon the registration of voters at Polling Stations and Electoral Area levels for registration at District Centers would hugely disenfranchise a greater majority of prospective voters considering the geographical outlook of the Districts across the country.
Mr. Awudu Ishaq further revealed that, Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution guarantees every Ghanaian citizen who is eighteen years and above and of sound mind, the inalienable right to register and vote in public elections and referenda. “This very Constitution further enjoins the Electoral Commission in Article 45 to undertake programs for the expansion of the registration of voters, and not to limit or restrict the registration of voters as the Electoral Commission is seeking to do through this absurd Constitutional Instrument”.
He averred that, the teething challenges that continue to bedevil Ghana Card Registration process makes the newly proposed Constitutional Instrument even more objectionable. “Apart from logistical and network concerns, we now know that the operations of the National Identification have been hamstrung by financial constraints. These financial challenges, as the NIA itself has disclosed, have led to 3.5 million blank cards being locked up in a bonded warehouse due to the NIA’s indebtedness to its private partner, Identity Management System (IMS), while another 645,663 cards are yet to be issued to Ghanaians who have completed their registrations. Additionally, about 631,847 cards have not been printed, while as we speak, an estimated 2.5 million Ghanaians are yet to be registered in the first place”.
The Constitutional Instrument he mentioned, would lead to the disenfranchisement of millions of Ghanaians and thereby occasion unjustifiable voter suppression should it be allowed to stand in its current form.
“We believe there is still a window of opportunity for the Electoral Commission to open its doors wider consultations to allow for some level of consensus to be built in promulgating a law that is so critical to the electoral fortunes and democratic consolidation in Ghana. Fortunately, the position we have taken has been backed by similar calls from the revered Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan as well as the reputable Center for Democratic Development (CDD) among others for the Electoral Commission to have a second look at the proposed Constitutional Instrument. Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan minced no words in advising Madam Jean Mensa and the Electoral Commission not to expunge the guarantor system from the voter registration requirements. We hold the view that the Electoral Commission must heed such a call from Dr Afari Gyan and others as this is the only way to engender the confidence and collective buy-in of the Ghanaian people in this proposed Constitutional Instrument. The Electoral Commission must be reminded that anything short of this, we are unreservedly opposed to such and we call on Parliament especially the Minority Group to do everything humanly possible to stop the Constitutional Instrument from becoming law”.