Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Saturday, June 27, 2015
The appointment of Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Charlotte Kesson-Smith Osei by the President as the new boss of the Electoral Commission (EC) is receiving mixed reactions from the public.
While some have misgivings about Mrs. Osei’s latest appointment, others are of the opinion that President John Mahama made the right choice in replacing Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan who retired last month.
Dr Ransford Gyampo, a Political Science lecturer at the University of Ghana said “It’s a plus for the Mahama administration in terms of appointment of women to key decision-making positions,” and added that “it is a good precedent that will foster national efforts to empower women.”
“It is also a clever way of (ending) controversy with respect to who takes the position of (Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan),” the political scientist told Joy FM yesterday.
He said “I am not sure that Charlotte is much tainted politically even though she was appointed by the NDC to the NCCE. So in terms of people accepting her I don’t see that there will be a lot of problem.”
Dr Gyampo said “One of the fears of many parties was that ‘if you don’t take care someone who is so biased would be appointed’ but in this case, I don’t see that is the situation,” and added that even if new EC boss is seen as politically biased, that should not affect outcome of elections in the country.
“Elections are lost and won at the polling stations, period”, he said but expressed worry about the ability of the new EC boss to withstand pressures from the political parties.
“How tough is she? How assertive is she? This appointment is a test of the independence of the Electoral Commission because many have argued that the EC owed its independence to the firm character of Afari-Gyan. Now that he has retired, let’s see how the EC fares”, he said.
However, some critics of the President’s choice have said Mrs Osei may not be neutral after all.
Constitutional lawyer Professor Stephen Kwaku Asare doubted the neutrality of the newly appointed EC chair.
He claimed there was evidence that the outgoing NCCE boss used her platform to favour the late President John Mills and the then vice President John Mahama when they boycotted an IEA debate in 2012.
“There is evidence that she sought to use the NCCE, when she was chairperson, to provide then President Mills and then vice President John Mahama platforms to propagate their message when they opted to boycott the IEA debate,” Prof. Asare told Starr FM yesterday.
Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG) a political pressure group expressed amazement at the choice of Mrs. Osei as the new Electoral Commission boss.
AFAG challenged the Ms Osei to ensure that subsequent elections do not end up at the Supreme Court.
“Madam electoral commissioner, there is no other window of opportunity should the 2016 elections be grounded again in an electoral dispute”, AFAG said in a press statement adding “as you step to work in your new office, you have only 2 choices for a working principle. Either you consider serving your God & country in search of a peaceful and stable Ghana for your children and children’s children or you sacrifice this God given virtue to the whims and caprices of your appointing authority obviously to jeopardize the stability of this country.”
“A few women in the past few years have brought their public office into disrepute. We urge you not to follow same. The role of IPAC as a consultative forum for stakeholders should not be over looked and undermined.”
The new EC boss is lawyer with experience in public service management and institutional reform. She also has deep knowledge in corporate law, banking, insurance, project financing and public-private partnerships.
Mrs Osei holds a Masters in Law (LLM) from Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada and a Master’s in Business Leadership from the University of South Africa, Pretoria. She obtained an LLB (Hons) from the University of Ghana in 1992.