An elder of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Mr R. O. Frimpong-Manso, has cautioned that a voter registration exercise should not supplant the fight against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
He said Ghanaians, particularly the leadership of political parties, should ask themselves whether their priority was in fighting COVID-19 or registering people to vote in the December 2020 elections.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic yesterday, Mr Frimpong-Manso called on President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to call for a consultative meeting of all stakeholders to establish common grounds on the way forward.
Mr Frimpong-Manso said just as the President found wisdom in bringing political parties and other stakeholders together to deal with COVID-19, it would be similarly prudent to do so now on the electoral process.
Such a meeting, he said, was not to dictate to the Electoral Commission (EC) on what to do but for a consensus to be reached, stressing that “lives are at stake in this whole saga”.
Mr Frimpong-Manso said it was important that the President took personal interest in the issue because he would either take the credit or be blamed for whatever happens.
He said with the number of COVID-19 cases going up each day, it was important that all the factors were considered.
“What happens if the numbers rise to 10,000 or more before the end of May or early June? We are all at risk hence the need for us to be mindful of the decisions or choices we make today,” he added.
The Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) has existed for purposes of consensus building, but Mr Frimpong-Manso said the current problem required a bigger consultative forum.
Mr Frimpong-Manso said it was important that all the stakeholders, including the average citizens, looked at the pros and cons of undertaking a voter registration exercise amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the EC had outlined safety protocols for the registration exercise, he expressed concern about how many Ghanaians would subscribe to participating in the exercise for fear of contracting COVID-19 due to the chaotic nature that had often characterised registration exercises.
He also wondered if the EC would be able to register as many eligible voters as possible considering the slowness often associated with the exercise.
“All these must be considered at the consultative meeting,” he stressed.
Mr Frimpong-Manso expressed unhappiness with the use of only the Ghana Card and the Ghanaian Passport as the sole forms of identification during the voter registration exercise.
He expressed disbelief that the birth certificate, which was used to acquire the passport, would not be acceptable for identification for the voter registration exercise.
He opined that many Ghanaians were not in possession of either the Ghana Card or the passport, and, therefore, it did not make sense to ask same people without the approved identifications to vouch for others.
He said there was also no justification for the rejection of the current voter ID card for the registration purposes on the simple basis that alleged foreigners were in possession of it.
“There are foreigners in possession of Ghanaian Passports and the Ghana Card today, so the rejection of the current Voter ID card and birth certificate will not cure any problem,” he stressed.