Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday, 29 October 2015
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has reportedly resolved to attend the public hearing that is going to be organized by the Electoral Commission (EC) on whether or not there should be a new biometric voter register before the 2016 general elections.
The opposition party beat the retreat yesterday when its Director of Elections, Martin Adjei Mensah Korsah, confirmed the party’s participation in the forum slated for today.
This follows a crunch Steering Committee meeting held at the party’s headquarters at Asylum Down, Accra, on Tuesday. The party’s team will be led by Peter Mac Manu, former National Chairman; and about 15 political parties are taking part as well as a number of civil society groups.
The NPP had raised ‘serious’ concerns about the refusal of the EC to answer allegations of flaws in the register that the party raised and had insisted that it needed clarification before it could further participate in the forum under the aegis of the Commission.
There were also issues raised unofficially by the party over the composition of the five-member panel that is going to preside over the forum, but no party official has said the NPP would boycott the discussion.
The NPP’s Director of Elections said, “What we did was to raise concerns that we had about the composition of the panel and at no point in time did the NPP say we won’t attend the forum.”
He said although “the Commission has officially been notified, we have not received any response from them. Whether the response comes before or not, we will go. And I think nothing stops us from registering concerns that we have at the forum. But the case that we’ve put forward still stands.”
Director of Public Affairs at the EC, Christian Owusu-Parry, told Citi FM yesterday that the Commission had not received any official complaint about the hearing or the panel, and therefore expected all parties to participate.
“So far we don’t have any indication that any party is withdrawing from the forum. As we speak now, I am unaware of any official petition against any member of the panel. It hasn’t come to us officially.
Apart from the NPP and its ally Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) and other pressure groups, there is a league of pastors, including Catholic Bishops, Christian Council, statesmen and opinion leaders such as former Presidents JJ Rawlings, JA Kufuor, Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Dr Joyce Aryee, chairman of the Christ Apostolic Church International, Apostle Dr. Stephen Ntow Amoani, Imans, former first lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings, among others, who are in favour of a new register, if allegations of a bloated electoral roll are found to be true.
However, the EC in a statement signed by the Public Affairs Director, justified the composition of the panel to collate concerns of the public and said it was meant to broaden the process so that nobody or group will be shortchanged.
The statement said, “The findings and recommendations of the panel will be presented to the EC for final decision and communication to the public.”
The composition of the panel raised eyebrows particularly among the NPP fraternity, on the neutrality of some of the members.
For instance, eminent jurist Justice V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe, co-Chair of the Coalition for Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) and former EC Chairman, is on record to be in favour of cleaning the register rather than compiling a new one altogether.
In an interview with Citi FM on August 21, the eminent jurist disagreed with the NPP on its call for a new register and rather asked it to take advantage of the EC’s voter register exhibition to help clean it, rather than calling for a new one.
“When you register the people you have what we call the provisional register; that’s where the work should be done; that’s where you exhibit the register because the Electoral Commission does not know everything, and it says ‘I have registered people come and tell me who should be or not be on the register,’” he said.
Another member of the panel, Prof Nii Narku Quaynor, a distinguished scientist reportedly supervised the training of NDC bigwigs, including then vice chairman and now chairman Kofi Portuphy, on the biometric registration when it was being introduced for the first time.
The said training programme, held at the Shai Hills sometime in early 2012, was also attended by Amadu Sulley, a deputy chairman at the EC, and it raised heated argument on why the EC should train ruling NDC officials at the expense of other parties.
After the NPP’s concern, the ruling NDC is also making bizarre claim that Dr. Grace Bediako, a former Government Statistician and former member of the National Development Planning Commission who is another panel member, is related to NPP flagbearer Nana Akufo-Addo.
Other members on the panel include Most Reverend Professor Emmanuel Asante, immediate-past Presiding Bishop of the Methodist Church of Ghana and Chairman of the National Peace Council and Maulvi Bin Salih, Ameer of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Mission of Ghana.