When it comes to Ghana’s parliamentary and presidential elections, it is the Electoral Commission (EC) that manages the process.
For this reason, in the run-up to elections, much premium is placed on the decisions and announcements made by the election management body, particularly its chairperson. Many a time, this leads to intensive and sometimes entrenched debates among the primary stakeholders — the political parties — civil society organisations, as well as the citizenry.
It is a universal truth that conducting democratic elections anywhere in the world is no child’s play, since it involves a lot of logistical requirements — both human and material. It is also about obtaining political power, which, in this instance, is given by the citizenry of a country.
Be that as it may, we believe that some of the protracted debates and misunderstandings that arise among the key stakeholders are about winning political power.
The Daily Graphic believes that this can be avoided if the necessary buy-ins, decisions and implementation plans are made by the EC early enough and not necessarily during election years when the stakes get high.
It is so unfortunate that a crunch Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting called by the EC, at the behest of its own constituted Eminent Advisory Committee, last Thursday on the dispute over the compilation of a new voters register ended in a deadlock.
While the National Democratic Congress-led group is opposed to the compilation, the New Patriotic Party-led group is in support of the new register.
For us at the Daily Graphic, our wish is for a consensus to pave the way for the election management body to easily roll out the electoral calender of activities for this year’s elections. It is never too late to build consensus and we still believe that with the right consultations, we shall overcome the current challenge.
If the parties continue in their entrenched positions, what will be the outcome of the electoral process? Is IPAC, which has worked so well to help grow the globally acclaimed democratic credentials of the country, now going to be the albatross hanging on the neck of the EC or the monster that is growing up to dictate the dos and don’ts of the constitutionally mandated body?
This is where the Daily Graphic postulates the view that although it is common knowledge that we will go to the polls this year, and that, indeed, the issue of a new voters register will still be on the front burner, much more needs to be done by the EC to prepare all Ghanaians for the crucial polls in December.
The EC is the manager of the process and it must do everything transparently possible to get the buy-in of majority of the citizenry, if not all. We are quite satisfied that it has come out with a detailed plan of action for the December polls (see lead story on the front page).
Equally assuring is the statement from the EC that compiling a credible register, which had only true and eligible Ghanaian citizens on it, was the responsibility of all and called on the public to assist it to ensure that only Ghanaians who were 18 years and above had their names on the register.
This is the time to do away with suspicions and mistrust and support the EC every step of the way for it to deliver on its mandate.
But beyond the public support for the implementation and rollout of the plans, we also expect the EC to continue with its stakeholder engagements and get the citizenry, political parties, the media and other stakeholders to understand every step that is being taken to guarantee a peaceful, free, fair and transparent Election 2020.
What is important is for the commission to realise that it has a mandate to deliver and that it cannot fail the nation.
Once again, the whole nation expects the EC to navigate the process so well, such that in the end, it will be in a position to deliver world-class polls that will represent a new milestone in Ghana’s democratic journey.