Prof. H. Kwasi Prempeh’s Speech Delivered At The IMANI-Occupyghana Forum On “Electoral Reforms”
Ghana’s much-touted reputation as an exemplary democracy in Africa is tied not so much to how well we govern—Heaven knows we govern rather poorly—but to how well we choose and change government through periodic elections. It is indeed our record, established since 2000, of orderly and relatively peaceful elections and seamless party turnover and succession in government that has put us on the map as a democracy success story in contemporary Africa.
Our last two general elections have, however, tested our capacity to hold on to even that reputation. As our two main rival parties have become roughly equally matched in their national electoral strength, our quadrennial presidential and parliamentary elections have become increasingly fiercely, and often nastily, contested, with only a thin margin and vote tally separating the declared winner from the runner-up in the presidential ballot. The closeness of the results in our presidential elections not only raises the prospect that the initially-announced result would be disputed and challenged by the purported loser, it also increases the incentives for ‘cheating’ and election malpractice by the rival parties, as they each try to maximize their vote harvest in their by and large ethnically-skewed strongholds. Indeed, a well-respected and perceptive student and scholar of African politics who has written on Ghana, Paul Nugent, writing with two co-authors in the aftermath of the 2008 elections, has expressed worry that, “Electoral malpractice and vote rigging along ethnic lines in Ghana’s virtual two-party system could gain a decisive importance as a ‘third force’ which could tip the balance in future elections.” Nugent, et al. see this as “a dangerous time bomb . . . which could explode in future elections.”
We Ghanaians, of course, believe ourselves to be an exceptional people. So, for example, to concerns about our likely vulnerability to the “oil curse,” we respond by drawing distinctions between us and Nigerians. “We are not Nigeria,” is how one Big Man interviewed in an international news story on Ghana’s oil put it. We see similar attitudes and expressions of Ghanaian Exceptionalism with regard to the potential for election violence on more than a local scale. “We are not Kenya”. “We are not Ivory Coast”. But are we really that exceptional?
Interestingly, both Kenya and La Cote d’Ivoire, being countries that, unlike us, did not have a history of military coups or military regimes, arguably had better postcolonial credentials as stable and peaceful countries than we. Yet, we all saw how rapidly the two countries descended into violent internecine conflict over a badly-conducted and hotly disputed presidential election.
National myths have their uses. The myth that we Ghanaians are an exceptionally peaceable people who will not war over a disputed election is perhaps a useful myth. By believing it to be true, we may well invest it with the power of a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially given how very much we cherish our international image as a peaceful nation. But, of course, a national myth, such as the myth that we are peaceeable people, may have its downside too. For instance, it may cause us to be complacent and live in denial, even in the face of what could be a looming danger.
What, then, must we do now and soon to safeguard the integrity of our elections and democracy and inoculate ourselves against the dangers I have alluded to.
Since this forum is billed as a discussion of the status of so-called reforms recommended by the Supreme Court majority at the conclusion of the presidential petition case, I would like to begin with that judgment of the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court decision in the 2013 Presidential Election Petition performed one important function associated with litigation: It settled finally the dispute between the parties over the declared result in the 2012 presidential election. But a court judgment, especially the judgment of a country’s apex court, must perform another very important function, this one more forward-looking in nature than the settlement of the dispute before it. The judgment of a Supreme Court also functions as law. And if it is to serve that function well, a court judgment must provide sufficient guidance and clarity so that persons in the same position as the parties that appeared before the court would know how to organize and conduct themselves and their affairs if faced with the same or similar situation in the future. In other words, when the Petitioners and Respondents and everyone else affected by the judgment of the Supreme Court in the Presidential Petition case read that judgment, they must be able to discern from it, perhaps with the assistance of counsel, what things they may or may not do next time there is an election and how they must or must not do the things they must do in the course of that election.
Viewed this way, that is, in terms of its function as law in a forward-looking sense, the majority judgment in the 2013 Presidential Petition case is, regrettably, of dubious value. In fact, one of our leading constitutional law academics raised doubts about the pedagogical value of that judgment shortly after it was delivered. But beyond its apparent pedagogical uselessness for teachers and students of constitutional law, the judgment of the Supreme Court did little to bring certainty or clarity in how our elections must be conducted or even in how to mount a successful challenge in court in the event of a disputed election.
Are presiding officers legally bound to sign the Pink Sheet? Or is the obligation imposed by the letter of the Constitution now optional or void? Can legal consequence of any kind follow the failure of a presiding officer to sign a Pink Sheet? What, if any, departure from the law by the EC or by any of its officers would constitute grounds for challenging the validity of an election result? What must a Petitioner show, in terms of the kind and quantum of evidence, in order to be successful in a judicial challenge to a declared election result? Is a re-run of the election between the contending parties the only permissible remedy in a presidential petition, or may the court order less drastic remedies like a recount or a revote in a named polling station or constituency?
These are the sorts of questions about an election or an election petition that parties and candidates and their lawyers would wish to know in advance of a future election. Unfortunately, these are precisely the questions the Supreme Court majority judgment in the 2013 Presidential Petition Case failed to answer. Instead, the Judgments of the majority in that case have left us with more questions than answers, creating more uncertainty about the legal standards for conducting a valid presidential election in Ghana or for successfully challenging the validity of a declared result. Such uncertainty, as well as the lingering perception, following the 2013 Presidential Election Petition, that a judicial challenge to a presidential election result has inherently poor prospects of success, does not bode well for the peaceful, lawful, and orderly conduct of elections in Ghana.
Instead of giving us clarity and certainty on the law of elections and election petitions, what we got from the Supreme Court were some “recommendations”. And I suppose those recommendations have, in fact, been taken seriously by some, including by the organizers of this forum. Unfortunately, those recommendations are bereft of legal authority. When a court means to compel a party that is subject to its jurisdiction to take or refrain from taking certain actions, it proceeds by way an ORDER addressed to that party; it does not make “recommendations”. The Supreme Court’s recommendations in this case, then, are what lawyers would call mere dicta. They are analogous to a non-binding advice. This is not to say that the substance of recommendations are themselves bad. It is simply to say that, in and of themselves, those recommendations cannot compel the EC to do those things that have been recommended. And with an Electoral Commission such as we have, you need more than “recommendations” to get it to act.
In any case, the “reforms” recommended by the Supreme Court are rather minimalist; they set a relatively low bar. We should use them, at best, as only a starting point for developing and mobilizing around an agenda for reform. We must demand a good deal more, and not only from the EC, but also from a host of other relevant state actors, notably the Judiciary, the Government, the NIA, as well as from We the People.
Let me start, again, with the Judiciary.
1. The Judiciary: Preparing for the Next Petition
We can no longer afford to have a contested presidential election drag on in court with no certainty as to when it might end and with the court making up the rules of engagement on an ad hoc basis as the case progresses.
The petitioners in last year’s Presidential Election Petition case filed their original petition before the end of December 2012, three clear months before Kenyans held their elections in March 2013. Yet, the 6-judge Kenyan Supreme Court concluded their presidential petition case almost four-and-a-half months before Judgment in our earlier-commenced case was rendered on August 29, 2013.
Kenyans are agreed, in retrospect, that the 14-day time limit imposed by the Kenyan Constitution for the adjudication and conclusion of a presidential petition is unreasonably short and tips the balance against the challenger. It is an opinion I share. On the other hand, an open-ended litigation such as ours, with no idea when the case might end, is equally, if not more, improper and unacceptable. Eight months is also too long a time to keep a nation on tenterhooks, with business investment and the business of government held in abeyance as everyone awaits the outcome of litigation concerning who may lawfully occupy the single most important office in the land.
We must fix this problem. The Rules of Court Committee, which is a body chaired by the Chief Justice and empowered by Article 157 and 64(3) of our Constitution, to make rules and regulations for regulating the practice and procedure of all courts in Ghana,” including in a presidential petition case, must make, in advance of the next general elections, rules regarding the maximum time limit for adjudication and other procedural aspects of presidential as well as parliamentary petitions brought before the courts.
There have indeed been suggestions for a presidential election petition to ran, from start to finish, for no more than one month. I have also heard 45-days suggested as a more appropriate time limit, with no more than 10 or 15-days for pre-trial matters and the rest of the time devoted to the trial and decision.
On parliamentary petitions, we have had cases in our courts drag on for the entire 4-year term of Parliament, with a decision announced after the parliamentary term is over. This is, of course, a mockery of justice and does no good to the reputation of the Judiciary. It is no wonder that, upon losing the Presidential Petition case, the party of the Petitioners decided not to prosecute any of the parliamentary petitions they had originally filed. Kenyan law allows no more than 6 months for the adjudication of a petition challenging the result in a parliamentary or county election. Even so, given that a parliamentary petition involves a more localized challenge, as compared to the national scope of a presidential challenge, I believe it should take no more than the time it takes to conclude a presidential petition case to adjudicate and decide a parliamentary petition in the first instance.
In addition to certainty on time limits for the adjudication and determination of election petitions, the Rules of Court Committee must also make rules on other procedural aspects of a petition, so that everyone knows in advance what the rules of engagement are for each stage of the process. The day-to-day management and processing of an election petition by a court must not be based on ad hoc and shifting proclamations from the bench.
2. Bifurcation of Disputes Involving Different Phases of the Electoral Cycle.
From the point of view of voters and contestants, the election cycle has two main components, each of which takes place at a different time. First, there is the registration of eligible voters, a process from which the Register of Voters is generated; and second, there is the actual voting on Election Day.
Election petitions often involve allegations of malpractice or illegality concerning both stages of the election cycle. But why wait until Election Day is over and the results announced before litigating allegations of malpractice and illegality associated even with the Registration process; in other words, allegations concerning the validity of the Voters Register.
Why can’t we decouple disputes and litigation over the registration process and the ensuing Voters Register from disputes and litigation over the various activities that occur on Election Day itself?
Decoupling Election Day complaints from Voter Registration complaints would mean that (1) The EC must by law be required to publish the Voters Register for public scrutiny a reasonable time in advance of the date set for elections; and (2) All challenges to the validity or contents of the Voters Register, and thus to the integrity of voters registration, must be brought and exhausted administratively and judicially before Election Day. In short, we must bifurcate the calendar for election-related challenges, so that Voters Register-related challenges will be resolved and determined before Election Day. We would thus enter Election Day with a Voters’ Register that is certified to be legally clean for the conduct of the elections.
If adopted, this proposal will mean that an Election Petition resulting from the declared result of an election will be limited in scope to only allegations of malpractice or illegality associated with the voting and counting of ballots on Election Day itself. Waiting till an election is over before litigating claims and allegations of registration and voter register malpractice complicates election adjudication and generally disadvantages the challenger.
3. Scheduling of Presidential Elections and Assumption of Office by the President-elect.
Kenya’s constitutionally-imposed electoral calendar requires an election petition arising from a disputed presidential election to be heard and concluded before the adjudged or declared winner of the presidential election is sworn in as President. That sequence, namely making a final judicial determination of a presidential election petition before swearing in the declared or adjudged winner as President, is considered best practice. Swearing in the announced winner of an election as President while litigation over the validity of his or her election is pending, as happened in Ghana, is generally considered unwise, for good reason. Once a person has already assumed office as President and proceeded to exercise the powers and prerogatives of that office, the question whether he or she was validly elected becomes as much a political question as a legal one, and any expectation that Judges sitting on a presidential petition case under those circumstances will approach that question purely as jurists concerned only with the law is fanciful.
Currently we hold our general elections in early December. In keeping with the calendar of a presidential term that was established on January 7, 1993, when the first President of the 4th Republic assumed office, any newly-elected President also must assume office on the 7th day of January in the year immediately following a presidential election. In effect, while the date on which a new President must assume office is constitutionally predetermined and therefore inflexible for now, the date for holding presidential elections is constitutionally flexible. Article 63(2) requires only that a presidential election be held “not earlier than 4 months nor later than one month before [the term of office of the incumbent president] expires”.
This means, if my arithmetic is correct, that, we can lawfully schedule our presidential elections anytime between September 7 and December 7. Scheduling the election in September allows too long a period of transition between an outgoing and an incoming President. Scheduling the election in December, as we do currently, does not allow enough time to hear and determine a filed presidential election petition before a new President is sworn in in early January. Some date in October or latest early November seems a more appropriate date for the presidential elections. That date should allow enough time between the election and the swearing in of a President-elect; that is, enough time for a declared loser to file a petition and for the Supreme Court to hear and determine the case (assuming the proposed 30 or 45 day time limit is agreed) BEFORE the term of an incumbent president ends. Moreover, a transition period of two or so months is quite reasonable.
4. Towards a Unitary Proof of Citizenship (National ID card)
The fourth area of reform is the National ID. The Fourth Republic marked its 20th anniversary last year. Including the 1992 elections, we have had 6 successive general elections. Yet, to date, we have been unable to get to the point of using a unitary form of identification to establish the identity, age, and citizenship of an eligible voter. In fact, we are not even moving progressively in that direction. Only a few weeks ago, the EC was enjoined by the Supreme Court from adding NHIS cards to the list of alternative ways of establishing the bona fides of an eligible voter. The current list of approved ways of establishing eligibility to be registered as a voter are a National ID, a passport, a drivers’ license, an existing voters’ registration card, and the word of any two registered voters.
Although no form of identification is corruption-proof, some are more susceptible to fraudulent use for voter registration and election purposes than others. In particular, the non-documentary form of identification, namely reliance on the word (not a sworn affidavit) of any two registered voters as sufficient to establish the eligibility of a third, is fraught with opportunity for fraud and other abuse. Moreover, eligibility based solely on one’s possession of an existing voter registration card, if that existing voter registration card was not itself issue originally on the basis of a national ID, a passport, a birth certificate, or a driver’s license, remains a source of concern. In general, a form of identification that is designed for use solely for election purposes is more susceptible to electoral fraud than a multi-purpose ID like a passport or a national ID card.
The issue here is, of course, the integrity of the Voters’ Register—an issue that lies at the center of many a contested election. Kenya and Uganda, neither of which receives as much positive acclaim internationally as we do for the supposed maturity of our democracy, are both working progressively toward extracting a unitary national ID card from a multi-purpose national ID database. The national ID card will be used for voter registration purposes, among other things.
We, who are presumably farther ahead in the democratic journey than both Uganda and Kenya, should have made significantly more progress by now toward reaching the goal of a voter registration system based on data extracted from a multi-purpose national ID database. Instead, while our National Identification Authority, established in 2003 and made operational by the enactment in 2006 of the NIA Act (Act 707), continues to provide lucrative employment for many, its primary reason for being, namely the establishment and maintenance of a common national ID database from which a national ID is to be generated and issued for a variety of uses, appears to have stalled.
In order to restore credibility in the Voters Register, we must resume the national ID card project, with persons who would be eligible to vote in the next elections receiving priority in the issuance of a national ID card. In other words, Ghanaians who are of voting age or would be of voting age by the 2016 elections should be registered and issued a national ID ahead of all other persons eligible to receive a national ID.
In April this year Uganda rolled out its National ID card registration project. In Uganda, a country of over 35 million, registration is compulsory, as the collected data will form the basis for national policymaking on a broad range of matters, in addition to its use as the basis for voter registration. The goal of the initial rollout was to register as many as 18 million Ugandans, aged 16 and above, over a four month period. A new national voters registered is expected to be extracted from this national ID database for use in the 2016 Ugandan elections.
Ghana should be embarking on a similar project with a similar goal. With 2016 elections in mind, present priority should be given to citizens who do not already have a national ID, a passport, or a drivers’ license. We must also rethink the propriety of locating the NIA structurally in the Office of the President. The credibility of the NIA would be greatly enhanced if it is perceived to be tied too closely and directly to the Presidency. Because of the multiple uses of a National ID system, it might function best as an interagency body (bringing together representatives of the GSS, EC, DVLA, Ministry of Finance, NDPC and the political parties), perhaps administratively located in the NDPC but reporting to Parliament.
5. The Business of the Electoral Commission
There is a need for greater transparency and accountability in how the EC undertakes and performs its assigned functions. The EC is set up constitutionally and statutorily as a multi-member commission, with a chairman who is not intended to be more than a primus inter pares or “first among equals”. Little is known, however, about how the EC makes decisions in those matters assigned to it by law for its determination. Does the commission hold properly documented meetings of all the commissioners at which decisions are made by resolution based on consensus or else by a majority-vote? Given the general lack of public awareness as to what goes on in the EC “black box” and the related widespread perception that it is run as a one-man show by its Chairman, greater transparency is needed about the way the Commission proceeds to make the decisions entrusted to it by law.
Furthermore, in making certain determinations, notably in the area of constituency delimitation, it is important that the Commission engage in open public consultation and share its methodology with public stakeholders so that its work can be properly understood, scrutinized, and challenged, if need be. (I will return to the subject of constituency boundary changes in a minute).
The Commission must extend similar transparency to its election-related operational activities, notably the recruitment and training of election staff (presiding and returning officers). What are the qualifications for election staff? Who are they, and how and by whom are they recruited and selected? These details are important for the public and community to know, since the backgrounds and quality of the personnel who oversee the conduct of elections at the local level impacts on the credibility and accuracy of the polls.
Of understandably greater public interest currently is the question of how impending or future vacancies in the leadership of the EC will or must be filled. Constitutionally, the power to make appointments to the position of Chairman or deputy Chairman or member of the Electoral Commission belongs to the President, acting “on the advice of the Council of State” (not merely “in consultation with” the Council of State, as is the case of, say, appointments to the leadership of CHRAJ). The import of this constitutional formulation is that the President must act in accordance with the “advice” of Council of State. What is not clear from that provision, however, is who originates or must originate the nomination? The President or the Council? This is likely a matter determined in practice by convention, with the President likely submitting one or more nominations to the Council for its advice. In practice, of course, this may not matter much, as our Council of State is largely a body of the President’s men and women.
What is clear about the current constitutional mode of appointment is its lack of mandatory inclusiveness, in terms of ensuring that persons appointed to the Commission have broad multi/bi-partisan support or approval commensurate with the nature of their jobs. A provision that required prior bipartisan consultation or input in the choice of a nominee and/or the approval of a supermajority (not just a simple majority) of Parliament for appointment of a nominee would provide the requisite comfort and assurance to the main political stakeholders. But that is something to consider for a future constitutional amendment. The question for now is how an impending vacancy in the leadership or membership of the Commission must be filled.
One thing worth noting about the Constitution as currently written is that, while it does not mandate political inclusiveness or bipartisanship in the appointment to the EC, it does not mandate political exclusion or uni-partisanship either. In other words, the applicable constitutional provision is what I would call a “permissive” one. In other words, nothing in the Constitution stops a President, in his best judgment, from consulting and reaching agreement informally with the Minority about an appropriate nominee for a vacancy on the Electoral Commission, before seeking the formally required advice of the Council of State. Given the current climate, that approach is what statesmanship would appear to demand of the appointing authority. But whether this suggestion has any prospect of materializing is a matter about which I am loath to hazard a guess.
6. The Problem of Constituency Delimitation and Malapportionment.
Now let me turn to a matter that routinely escapes our collective scrutiny yet is emerging as a potentially politically combustible issue. This is the matter of constituency demarcation or “delimitation,” as it is also called in the literature, and how the Electoral Commission has gone out it in the 4th Republic.
The principle of the matter appears simple: As between individual citizens in a representative democracy, the rule of “one person, one vote” is uncontroversial; all agree that one person’s vote, cast in an election, must have the same weight and value as the next person’s vote. When we extend this rule to representation in the national legislature, where we are represented not individually but as members of geographically-defined communities of citizens (which we call constituencies), the equivalent principle is that, every person elected to Parliament must represent roughly the same collective number of citizens as the next member of Parliament. In other words, constituencies must stand in relative equality with one another; with each constituency being of roughly equal size, in terms of population, as the other.
This important principle is breached when one constituency (Constituency A) of, say, 10,000 citizens gets to elect one MP to Parliament while the next constituency (Constituency B) of, say, 20,000 citizens also gets to elect 1 MP to Parliament. When that happens, the voting power of Constituency B is effectively half that of Constituency A. In other words, Constituency A, with half the population of Constituency B, is overrepresented in Parliament; conversely Constituency B is underrepresented.
This principle of equal legislative representation for communities of roughly equal population is captured in Article 47(3) of the Constitution: “The boundaries of each constituency shall be such that the number of inhabitants in the constituency is, as nearly as possible, equal to the population quota.” The population quota is, in turn, defined as “the number obtained by dividing the number of inhabitants in Ghana by the number of constituencies into which Ghana is divided . . . .” In short, all constituencies must have roughly the same number of inhabitants. That is the RULE in constituency delimitation.
By its very language (“as nearly as possible”), however, Article 47(3) does not prescribe mathematical exactitude in the population of all constituencies. Section 4 of Article 47 allows the number of inhabitants in a constituency to be greater or less than the “population quota” (national average) “in order to take account of means of communication, geographical features, density of population and area and boundaries of regions and other administrative or traditional areas.”
The problem here is how the EC has proceeded to apply both the RULE in Article 47(3) and the limited EXCEPTIONS allowed under Article 47(4). First, much of what the EC does in this area of constituency delimitation has also remained a “black box”. The criteria, methodology, and the process the EC follows to determine, in one instance, that 70,000 inhabitants must be lumped together as one constituency, while another constituency must have only 20,000 inhabitants have remained something of a trade secret of the EC. Moreover, there is no announced or open public consultation involving the affected or relevant communities. The EC has done constituency delimitation has an essentially in-house exercise.
At the minimum, (1) the standards, criteria and methodology that the EC proposes to apply or follow in any constituency delimitation exercise must be clearly specified, explained and published in advance in a constitutional instrument; (2) any instance in which the creation of a constituency involves a deviation from the population quota must be explained and justified by the EC on the basis of the applicable methodology and criteria; and (3) deviations from the population quota must pass a reasonableness and fairness test (that is, any deviation from the population quota must stay within a predetermined, reasonable range). Unless the EC’s constituency demarcation exercise is constrained by these principles, we will continue to see wide, unexplained disparities in the population of various constituencies, raising suspicions and concerns about partisan or, worse, ethno-communal malapportionment. Moreover, it is important to ensure that the EC does not apply the limited exceptions allowed under Section 4 of Article 47 in ways that trump or make nonsense of the rule.
The second problem with how the EC has apparently been doing constituency creation and demarcation is that, the EC appears to believe that it is obliged by law to create new constituencies whenever the President creates new districts. The origin of this belief, as far as I understand it, is said to be PNDC Law 284. Whatever its statutory basis, this practice of the EC creating new constituencies when new districts are created raises troubling constitutional questions.
The Constitution envisions, in its Article 241(2) that the “redrawing of the boundaries of districts” would be a political exercise. That conclusion follows from the fact that the Constitution specifically entrusts the creation and reconstituting of districts to Parliament and the President, which two political entities are thus empowered to redraw or reconstitute districts through the enactment of legislation. By legislation, it is the President that, in practice, creates new districts.
In clear contrast to the constitutionally-mandated political approach to district boundary demarcation, the redrawing of the boundaries of electoral constituencies is envisioned by the Constitution as an independent non-political exercise, hence, the Constitution’s entrustment of this sensitive task to the Electoral Commission, pursuant to Article 47.
In light of this constitutionally-delineated division of labour, whereby district boundaries are to be politically determined (pursuant to Article 241(2)) while constituency boundaries are to be neutrally determined by the EC (pursuant to Article 47), the EC’s reliance on the “rule” that a constituency may not cross or straddle district boundaries, has the effect of allowing an overtly political determination (district boundaries) to distort or predetermine the outcome of the process of electoral constituency demarcation. [The Constitution says only that a constituency may not cross Regional boundaries; it says nothing about constituencies not crossing district boundaries]. By using district boundaries as the basis for creation of new constituencies, EC, in effect, has subjected itself (in the performance of one of its most important functions) to the direction or control of the President, in violation of Article 46 of the Constitution. To the extent that this result is understood to be dictated by some statutory provision applicable to the EC, that statutory provision runs afoul of the letter and purpose of Article 46 of the Constitution.
7. Implementation of Legislation on Voting Rights of Overseas Ghanaians
The EC must demonstrate a good faith commitment to operationalize and enforce the provisions of the Representation of People’s (Amendment) Act (ROPAA), enacted in 2006. While that law rightfully acknowledges the right of non-resident/foreign-resident Ghanaians to be registered to vote and to vote in Ghanaian presidential and parliamentary elections, it left it to the EC to roll out a plan of implementation. That is not, in and of itself, unusual. Article 82(1)(e) of the Kenyan Constitution requires Parliament to pass legislation to provide for “the progressive registration of citizens residing outside Kenya, and the progressive realization of their right to vote.” So far, however, the EC has not acted to implement its statutory duty under ROPAA. Nor has it made public its plans or timeline for implementing the law.
The passage of this law was attended by a great deal of political and philosophical debate. In the end, proponents of the law won the day and Parliament passed the law. It is not for the EC to take sides in this concluded political debate; its duty is simply to ensure the good faith implementation of the law, according to some reasonable or progressive timeline. The least the EC must do is to publish its plan of implementation for bringing the law into fruition.
[The trend, internationally, is for the franchise to be extended, not restricted. And more and more countries, including African countries, are extending the opportunity to vote in national elections to their foreign-resident citizens.]
8. What to do about Abuse of Incumbency during Election Season.
• [ORAL: Evidence of abuse of incumbency during elections is reflected in the fact that Ghana has emerged from nearly every general election with a huge, unbudgeted budget deficit, which has taken a huge toll on the economy in the year or two following an election. Note how the Constitution effectively creates a Presidential “slush fund” via Article 179(11). Query whether this fund is audited by the Auditor-General, and if so on what basis. Query political party financial reporting obligations not being enforced.]
[Note some things being proposed (Proportional Representation and CRC proposed amendment of Right to Vote clause) as proposals that divert energies and attention away from what we should be focusing on by proposing what are, in effect, solutions in searching of problems. Point to need for greater civic activism and mobilization to push the appropriate bodies to implement necessary reforms].
NB: The event was held at Alisa Hotel on August 29, 2014 covered by all of Ghana’s media with some international press. There were 217 attendees for the 110-capacity conference room. Please see a few photos attached.
IMANI Center for Policy & Education is a Think Tank of considerable local and international repute based in Ghana. Founded on the 9th of March 2004, IMANI has carved a niche in Ghana’s policy environment for putting out objective, independent analysis and critique on many issues, using tried and tested techniques that apply across different disciplines.