Election 2024: EC must reassure stakeholders that they are trustworthy – Osae-Kwapong

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Jean Mensa, Chairperson of the Electoral Commission
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Research fellow at the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), Dr John Osae-Kwapong, has urged the Electoral Commission (EC) to work on issues of mistrust among members of the public and some political parties ahead of the December 7 general elections.

Speaking with Eric Mawuena Egbeta on TV3’s News Central on Wednesday May 15, Dr Kwapong implored the Electoral Commission (EC) to tone down its reactions to concerns raised by stakeholders in the electoral process.

“And therefore, for me, I hope that they would regularly keep that in mind and say all of our actions must reinforce the trust that we want citizens to have in us. The last quick thing I would add to is that I think in as much as I applaud them for responding to issues, sometimes the tone can be quite a bit overly defensive. And I’m sure that they must feel they are coming under unfair attack, which is therefore resulting in that,” he stated.

“I think they can also be measured in their tone. And most importantly, again, make sure that everything they’re doing is to reassure citizens that they are an institution that can be trusted to play their role in this upcoming election,” Dr Osae-Kwapong added.

He noted that Civil Society Organisations as stakeholders in building the nation, are only interested in helping to shape the process for the benefit of the country.

“I don’t think that the civil society you know, has any motivation or any interest in demeaning the Electoral Commission or dragging the name of the Electoral Commission into disrepute. I don’t believe that’s the motivation. For especially the light that IMANI has been shining on the work on the EC, you know, it’s part of what civil society does, you know, to demand accountability, to demand transparency, and to ask the institution to explain things that the general public may not necessarily make full sense of, or they need some better understanding of it.

The SALL issue has been a difficult one and a very challenging one. A lot has been said about it. IMANI, Professor Kweku Asare and the rest have raised some serious issues as to why the EC took the position that it took with respect to creating that new constituency and allowing the people of SALL to be able to vote. I have read the EC statement,” he said.

He wondered whether the Electoral Commission could not have held a special election for the constituents of Santrokofi, Akpafu, Lolobi and Likpe (SALL) to enable them to have representation in Parliament.

“They’ve sort of described the sequence of events and the administrative processes and legislative processes they had to go through and why. Therefore, that made it impossible for that new constituency to be created and therefore allow the people of SALL to vote.

But I still am not clear about just one thing, and I’m no constitutional expert, but if you read the language of the constitution, one of the things that I was asking myself this morning is, was it possible for the EC to have held a special election post the dissolution of that Parliament in 2021 and the reconvening of the new Parliament?

Was there anything that stopped the EC from holding a special election to ensure that the people of SALL could then have their parliamentary representative? And hopefully, once that is also explained, maybe the entire sequence of events may make more sense to me. But at this point, I still have that outstanding question,” Dr Osae-Kwapong stated.

He, however, gave the EC credit for responding to issues raised regarding the electoral process.

“I will give them credit for being responsive to the issues and concerns that are being raised. So whether it’s this issue of SALL, whether it’s some of the concerns that have been raised on the first two days of the limited voter registration exercise, I’ll give them some credit for being responsive to those things and trying to explain. But as I think I’ve said on your show before, the issue of mistrust hanging over the EC is not the best,” he noted.

Background

The Electoral Commission (EC) in a statement denied allegations by the President of IMANI Africa, Franklin Cudjoe, that it disenfranchised the people of Santrokofi, Akpafu, Lolobi and Likpe (SALL).

The EC in a statement on Wednesday, May 15, clarified that at no point did it disenfranchise the people in the newly created Guan Constituency.

The Electoral Commission said it followed all the legal processes in creating a constituency and never disenfranchised the people in its procedure. But President of IMANI Africa, Franklin Cudjoe insists that the exclusion of voters in the SALL Traditional Areas from voting in the election for a Member of Parliament during the 2020 general election was a flagrant violation of the right to vote of the said voters.

The people of SALL did not partake in the December 7, 2020 parliamentary election but only voted in the Presidential election, after an announcement by the EC on December 6, 2020; the eve of the polls.

Santrokofi, Akpafu, Lolobi and Likpe (SALL) which used to be part of the then Volta Region was carved out and became part of the newly created Oti Region.

By Isaac Kwasi Amekor