The Let My Vote Count Alliance has taken due notice of the decision by President John Dramani Mahama to appoint Mrs. Charlotte Osei, 42, as Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana. We wish to greet her with this clarion message: NO NEW REGISTER NO VOTE IN 2016!
By this, the lawyer, who until her new appointment was the Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education, could be in charge of Ghana’s electoral administration body for the next 28 years or so. This calls for a person of utmost integrity and that can only be determined by her actions and leadership.
We have no problem with Mrs Osei personally, even though her political leanings towards the ruling party has been very clear over the last six or so years, at least.
Indeed, we welcome the fact that a woman has been appointed to this most important and highly sensitive position and Ghanaian women look up to her to restore the dignity of that high office.
She should not risk the peace, stability and growth of Ghana’s democracy. We only pray that she has the courage and morality to stand up to what is true, just and right.
But, we have a couple of fundamental questions. The first being about the case filed by journalist Richard Dela Sky, asking for interpretation from the Supreme Court that from the Constitution it is rather the Council of State which selects the person to be appointed as EC Chairperson and for the President to only perfunctorily appoint that same person to the job. The Supreme Court hears the substantive case on July 14 but the President has pre-empted that by so brazenly disregarding the judicial process to hurry to make the appointment. Why couldn’t the President wait?
Instructively, the President has filed his defence through the Attorney-General and the Court, accordingly, is inclined to take the process of appointment endorsed in that defence to be how the President went about making this appointment. So, the ruling of the Court, eventually, could have some interesting consequences on Mrs Osei’s purported appointment.
Whiles we shall leave that to the lawyers and judges, the greater concern now for the LMVCA is how the new EC boss will take seriously the various reform proposals waiting for her on the table. We wish to assure Mrs Osei that Ghanaians will accept nothing less than a new voters register and the implementation of all the reforms to which the various major stakeholders have signed up.
We do not want her to pollute the EC atmosphere with any of the cancerous arrogance associated with her predecessor. Indeed, after last year’s limited registration, Dr Afari Gyan blatantly refused all formal requests to release, as required by law, details of the updated register in electronically readable (CSV and PDF file) formats or any other format to all the political parties for scrutiny.
Beyond a new register, Ghanaians will not accept Dr Afari Gyan’s final diktat that voters would be allowed to cast their ballots in 2016 even if they failed biometric verification at the polling station. The law must remain: No Verification, No Vote!
Ghanaians are also demanding that we introduce in Ghana for next year’s general elections the features that we saw in Nigeria’s Permanent Voter’s Card. This means we want a biometric voter’s ID card that contains the bio data of the voter card on a chip in his or her new voter ID, which would be electronically verified at the polling station.
Lawyer Charlotte Osei should also bear in mind that the Supreme Court last year ruled as unconstitutional the use of a National Health Insurance Card as a means of establishing eligibility to register to vote. We want to see the register purged of the millions of people who registered using NHIS cards and another opportunity given them to register again using any other legitimate means of establishing their eligibility.
We want Mrs Osei to take her time to see for herself how flawed the current register really is. For instance, what explains the fact that places like North Tongu, Hohoe, and Kpone Katamanso and others saw their populations shooting up to 70% from 2008 to 2012.
We welcome her to the hot seat and will challenge her to put her country before the ruling party. Anything less would be resisted with all the legitimate force we could muster.
David Asante, Convener
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