Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Monday, January 25, 2016
The British Government has acknowledged that Ghana’s controversial voters’ register is bloated by at least 10 percent.
According to a correspondence from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a copy of which is available to DAILY GUIDE, the British Government was adequately informed about the trend in the country regarding the register.
“We are fully aware of the concerns regarding the electoral register. We note that the average population percentage in Ghana of those eligible to vote is approximately 52%, which is 10% higher than continental average,” the letter from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, addressed to some concerned Ghanaians who had petitioned Prime Minister David Cameron, indicated.
The correspondence, dated December 23, 2015 and signed by Vicki Morley, Desk Officer for Ghana, said the British High Commission in Accra was in regular contact with all political parties and civil society groups as well as the Electoral Commission.
“We stand ready to assist the Electoral Commission in ensuring that concerns can be addressed,” the letter pointed out.
The British Government’s position tallies with the report of the panel composed by the EC to look into the petition of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) over the alleged bloated register.
The results of the analysis as captured on page 9 of the VCRAC Crabbe Panel report says, “There is some evidence that the register of voters possibly contains a substantial number of names of people whose records are currently not valid. By all indications, the number of registered voters is not only unusually high, but it may be in excess of the potential number."
The panel suggested that the register was bloated by about 13%.
A London-based community newspaper, The Echo, had claimed in its current edition that Ghana’s Biometric Voters’ Register is over-bloated by 1.3 million, using a voter population of about 13,878,861 as suggested by the Crabbe committee.
The newspaper, which targets the African Caribbean community in the UK, published the sensational claim in its January 22 to February 4, 2016 edition, quoting the British officials.
The claim is likely to spark another round of heated political debate in Ghana following the Electoral Commission’s decision not to compile an entirely new electoral roll after the five-member panel chaired by Justice VCRAC Crabbe had submitted its report on the issue, even though the report conceded that there are fundamental flaws in the current register.
According to The Echo, it ‘intercepted’ a correspondence between the Office of the British Prime Minister, through the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK, and the tone of the letter was an expression of concern about an over-bloated Ghana electoral register.
“These letters have been written in response to a petition by some concerned Ghanaians in Britain who have expressed grave concerns about potential electoral violence in this year’s elections,” The Echo claimed.
The concerned Ghanaians had submitted a petition to the Prime Minister on 6th November, 2015 after a peaceful demonstration at the forecourt of the seat of the British Government - 10 Downing Street. Mr Cameron received the petition and directed the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to respond to the petitioners and to state the official position of the British Government on the subject matter, the paper said.
It added that a letter conveying the British Government’s response to the coordinator of the concerned Ghanaians in UK, Mr Damoa, was authored by Vicki Morley stating, “Thank you for your letter of 6 November to the Prime Minister regarding voter registration in the build-up to the December 2016 General and Presidential elections in Ghana. I am replying as the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Desk Officer for Ghana.”
The letter suggests that per the British Government’s independent assessment, Ghana’s current electoral register is not fit for the 2016 presidential and parliamentary elections.
“The Echo newspaper's understanding of the British Government’s assessment is based on a voter population of 13,628,817. This is the total number of registered voters recorded by Ghana’s Electoral Commission for the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections. The 10% equates to 1,362,882, which the British government claims is above continental average,” the newspaper posited.
It said that the EC’s approval rating had reduced from 75% to fewer than 45 after a protracted electoral dispute in 2012 according to a barometer survey completed in 2014.
The Echo said “Mrs Charlotte Osei, who in mid-2015 took over from Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, had made public pronouncements about her unwillingness to compile a new voters’ register.”