Ghanaians Abroad Must Vote in 2016 Polls Group

The US-based advocacy group, Progressive Alliance Movement (PAM), which has sued the Electoral Commission over it’s failure to implement the Representation of the People Amendment Law (ROPAL), to allow Ghanaians abroad the right to vote, says it expects the law implemented this year, to allow Ghanaians abroad to vote in the November polls.

According to the group, they had to take the court action because letters they had written to the EC in relation to the matter have not yielded any positive results. ROPAL was passed in 2005 to enable Ghanaians living abroad to vote in national elections, but it has still not been implemented by the EC since former President John Kufuor signed it into law.

A former Majority Leader in Parliament, Felix Owusu Agyapong, had also chided the EC for failing to implement the law.

Speaking on Eyewitness News, the Chief Executive Officer of the group (PAM), said they were not asking for much from the EC, arguing that some countries with less democratic credentials than Ghana have managed to do this. “What we are asking the EC to do is not re-inventing the wheel.

It has been done by so many other countries which are less democratic than Ghana. They are implementing the same law for their respective sets and its working for their citizens and we don’t see why the Electoral Commission would have a challenge implementing the same law.”

He also noted the poor communication on the part the EC who are yet to explain why the law has not been implemented yet. Mr. Koranteng indicated that the EC may be facing some challenges but since they have not communicated any with them, they cannot deal with assumptions.

“They haven’t even analyzed the situation to let us know how challenging this is going to be so we cannot go on the assumption that it may seem as a challenge or a problem for the Electoral Commission to implement this thing everywhere Ghanaians live around the globe.” Regardless of any challenges they may be facing, Mr. Koranteng insisted there was no reason why the EC could not implement the ROPAL for Ghanaians abroad to vote in this year’s Election.

Lack of funding not a good excuse

“If we knew for a fact how much implementing ROPAL would be, then we could say we could or could not afford it but we don’t know and that is not a good enough excuse from the Electoral Commission for not implementing because after all, it is their mandate to know the cost… We are tired of the excuses, it has been over ten years. We have had the 2008 election go by, 2012 elections go by so enough with the excuses.

Let’s get this thing done,” he insisted. Violation of citizens’ rights The US-based group also insisted that the non-implementation of the law is also a violation of their rights quoting several international conventions on human rights. “We have been violated across the board. Forget the political side.

Just look at it from a human rights perspective. We have been violated across the board… why do you want to violate a group of people huge as the jurisdiction as Ghanaians living abroad the rights for them to vote whose remittances contribute to the development of the country.

There are almost three million Ghanaians abroad and according to 2013 figures, the remittances from Ghanaians abroad amounted to $4.4 billion in taxes more than the taxes that Ghana collected which was $4.3 billion . This is a force to be reckoned with and so you cannot disenfranchise such a group of people and say they are not significant or relevant.”

He added, “If you make us part of that which goes on in Ghana then I think it’s fair to recognize us. And in Article 13 of the African Commission on Human Rights, this makes it a clear violation; Article 25 of the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights makes it a violation; article 21 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights makes it a violation and protocol (1) of the European Act which Ghana is a part of also makes it a violation so just looking at it from a human rights perspective, we have been violated across board.”