Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Friday, April 29, 2016
Ghanaians resident abroad are putting pressure on the Electoral Commission (EC) to implement the Representation of the People Amendment Act (Act 699), popularly called ROPAA, to enable them to vote in the upcoming crucial November general election.
Under the ROPAA, eligible Ghanaians are entitled to vote at their various destinations outside Ghana; but since its passage in 2006, the EC has not implemented the Act, citing logistical and other constraints.
As the November elections approach, a New York-based group calling itself Progressive Alliance Movement (PAM), which claims to be non-political, has filed a suit at the Human Rights Court in Accra asking it to compel the EC to implement ROPAA without delay.
The five members of PAM resident in the United States who filed the suit are Kofi A. Boateng, Agyenim Boateng, Nellie Kemevor, Obed Danquah and Christiana Sillim. They were all represented by their solicitor, Samson Lardy Anyenini of A-Partners@Law.
According to the plaintiffs, their application is based on the fact that under Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution, “Every citizen of Ghana of eighteen years of age or above and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purposes of public elections and referenda.”
They complained that “General elections in 2008 and 2012 have come and gone. No CI from the EC to implement ROPAA has seen the light of day and we are in the dawn of the 2016 election.”
According to the plaintiffs, “It is incomprehensible that Ghana, a country that projects itself as the embodiment of democracy in Africa and uses that image to collect millions of dollars and pounds of donor grants for its elections and other purposes, will not deem it necessary to use portions of the same funds to be truly democratic by being inclusionary and addressing the enfranchisement of its important and growing constituency - GLAs.”
The plaintiffs said that on page 40 of the recently released Strategic Plan (2016-2020) of the EC, the Commission acknowledged the need for a roadmap for ROPAA implementation but turned around to say “there is currently no plan.”
According to PAM, when it wrote to the EC on the way forward for the ROPAA in August last year, they (Commission) did not reply it, saying, “PAM has no choice but to file the suit on behalf of GLAs who believe in nation first, politics second.”
They said that in the case of overseas voting, 115 countries out of 196 in the world had enabling legislations to permit the right to their migrant citizens while in Africa there are at least countries like Senegal, Cape Verde, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, South Sudan, Mauritius, Lesotho, Mali and Liberia whose governments permit overseas voting.
“Ghana is late; and two more years for the EC just to begin to study a plan for ROPAA’s implementation will never place Ghana first,” they insisted, adding, “Voting through the immediate implementation is a hook that connects GLAs to their country.
“National existentialism makes ROPAA implementation a matter of national urgency - not something for which there are no plans and needs another two years to study after ten years of no action.”
The plaintiffs further said that they were following President John Mahama’s advice to Ghanaians abroad that they should follow up on the ROPAA with the EC when he visited Worcester, Massachusetts on September 27, 2014, saying, “We are in court now with the EC.”