The Electoral Commission (EC) has come under heavy criticism for some of the demands it is making from the presidential and the parliamentary candidates for the December general election.
First was its demand that individuals who seek to contest for the position of president pay an amount of GH¢50,000 each while those contesting for parliamentary seats pay GH¢10,000 each.
But the decision to charge high filing fees appears to have caught fire as some of the political parties have gone to court to place an injunction on the process.
Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom’s Progressive People’s Party (PPP) and Akwasi Addai Odike’s United Progressive Party (UPP) are contesting the filing fees in court, having filed separate cases against the arbitrary increases by the EC.
The two other political parties – the PPP and the UPP – have both filed interlocutory injunction against the EC’s decision to charge GH¢50,000 and GH¢10,000 for presidential and parliamentary aspirants which they think was virtually monetizing the position.
As at press time yesterday, the PPP was said to have succeeded in serving the EC’s lawyer, Thaddeus Sory, with the writ, even though when DAILY GUIDE contacted him, he said he could not confirm or deny it.
But even before the dust could settle on the increase in the filing fees, the EC surfaced with yet another demand Tuesday evening, asking presidential and parliamentary aspirants to declare their assets.
Failure to do so, the EC said could lead to a possible disqualification of the aspirant.
That decision came only three days to the close of the filing of nominations on Friday, September 30.
Some have therefore, expressed misgivings about the move, with others speculating that it is part of the EC’s plans to deliberately disqualify some people from contesting in the upcoming general election – be them presidential or parliamentary aspirants.
In an interview with Accra-based Joy FM, EC Director of Communications, Eric Kofi Dzakpasu, said the commission would not compromise on the demand because “there are legal requirements for going through to become a candidate. To the extent that you don’t meet all the legal requirements your guess is as good as mine. You have not fulfilled the legal requirement so you may not go through.”
However, some lawyers have questioned the basis of EC’s demands since it has no legal backing.
In an interview with DAILY GUIDE, Edudzi Kudzo Tamakloe, a lawyer and Deputy Youth Organiser of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) in the Greater Accra Region, said “The Constitution has set Article 94 on Eligibility and Qualification; what it speaks to is to furnish the Commission with your tax clearance, nothing more, nothing less.”
According to him, “The question of Asset declaration comes only in Article 286 of the 1992 Constitution and it speaks of persons who have been appointed and it lists the category of officers who have to fulfill the Assets declaration forms; it does not speak of persons who aspire to be Members of Parliament or President. This is very clear; it does not even make room for any ambiguity at all.”
For him, “What it means is that the EC cannot disqualify you on the basis of not having it…because for the Asset declaration, the purpose is that you are now a public servant or a public official whose salary is drawn from the Consolidated Fund; what it also means is that the state or the people must know whether you are not gaining or making any inappropriate gains anywhere and that is why if you look at the form it is before and after, so that that they can check whether or not you used your office to amass wealth inappropriately.”
Mr Tamakloe therefore, had a serious difficulty why the EC is bringing up the issue at this time with only a few days to the close of nominations.
It is for this reason that Acting General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), John Boadu, has questioned the EC’s decision and the motive behind the demand when it is not backed by the Constitution.
For him, what the EC is doing was causing “unnecessary apprehension.”
That, he said, was because “Over the years it is an eligibility criteria but it hasn’t been that people who are filing must do so before they file, especially when they are not Members of Parliament. MPs, when they go to parliament, do so and when they are exiting parliament also file to update their asset position and not new entrants,” he said.
“I think the EC should clarify the position. I think it is important that we don’t create needless apprehension amongst the populace.”
Interestingly, Eric Dzakpasu shied away from talking about the issue when DAILY GUIDE caught up with him for clarification saying, “moving forward, the Returning Office [referring to the EC boss, Charlotte Osei] has to respond to the issue.”
Nana Files Today
However, barring any unforeseen situation, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, NPP presidential candidate, will today submit his nomination forms, reports I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr. from Kumasi.
The NPP leader will personally storm the EC office in Accra to file his forms to contest for the presidency if the court processes did not stop the commission.
Nana Akufo-Addo’s decision to personally submit his nomination forms is in response to a passionate appeal by a larger section of the NPP members.
John Boadu made the disclosure yesterday afternoon.
He stated categorically that the NPP flag bearer had met all the requirements, including the staggering GH¢50,000 filing fee, so he was ready to file.
According to him, the leadership of the party and a cross-section of the NPP members would accompany their flag bearer to submit his forms.
Manifesto In Accra
John Boadu announced that the NPP would officially launch its manifesto for the impending elections in Accra on October 9.
According to him, the party originally decided to launch the manifesto at the Northern Regional capital of Tamale on October 8.
He said the original date for the manifesto launch at Tamale clashes with a Black Stars match, hence the party’s decision to move the event to Accra.
Source: Daily Guide
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