The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) has reiterated the need for an emergency meeting between the Electoral Commission (EC) and all key election stakeholders, including the political parties and civil society organisations (CSOs) to discuss the various concerns regarding the compilation of a new voters register ahead of the December 7, 2020 general election.
That, it said, would help minimise rancour and acrimony over the voters register as the country prepared for the December 2020 elections.
“Indeed, CODEO agrees with the recent call by the EC’s Eminent Persons Advisory Body for an Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting to find an amicable solution to the stand-off over whether or not to compile a new voters register for the December 2020 elections, including overhauling its Information Technology (IT) infrastructure,” it said.
In a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Mr Albert Arhin, CODEO said it believed that the IPAC mechanism had served the country very well over the years and should be a platform to be utilised to address election administration disputes.
It said the need for such a meeting followed deliberations over the matter at CODEO’s meeting last Monday, after it had diligently assembled and reviewed relevant and available information pertaining to the debate, including statements issued by political parties and CSOs in support of or opposition to the EC’s decision.
It said some of the technical justifications for the EC’s decision had been contested, and alternative suggestions advanced on how the EC could avoid having to acquire a new IT system for compiling and managing the register; value for money issues associated with the EC’s procurement process; the practice of registering voters every two election cycles was wasteful and must come to an end, particularly as this practice had not addressed some of the underlying challenges associated with the compilation of voters register in Ghana.
“There is a high degree of mutual suspicion and mistrust between the ruling and opposition political parties, the bases of which must be laid bare and addressed,” it pointed out.
The statement said the best way to get a resolution around those issues and to move the process forward was by providing an avenue for dialogue and consultation which also recognised the constitutional mandate of the EC guided by several subsidiary rules to administer and manage the electoral processes in Ghana, and bearing in mind the electoral timetable.
“At the same time, the EC needs to acknowledge that not all electoral administration and related disputes are just a matter of law, but of political governance which requires transparency, accountability and the building of trust between the Election Management Body (EMB) and all stakeholders, including the general public.
In this regard, CODEO urges all stakeholders to engage constructively in an effort to address the issues raised.” it stated.
It said CODEO was committed to the pursuit of a free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections on December 7, 2020, stressing that a credible voters register was essential to lay the foundation for a free and fair elections.
It pointed out that CODEO was aware that by convention, the voters register must be ready at least three months to the election date to avoid any constitutional complications.
The statement, therefore, welcomed the recommendation of the Eminent Persons Advisory Body of the EC for an extended IPAC meeting to further discuss the issues towards building a national consensus on the way forward.
It recommended that the Advisory body extended that engagement to other stakeholders such as CSOs which had raised substantial issues on the matter.
The statement said it was important for all electoral stakeholders, including the EC, political parties and citizens to work diligently to rid themselves of the mistrust and suspicion that continued to characterise the country’s electoral process and constantly threatened democratic stability.
“Significantly, all stakeholders should ensure that this will be the last election year that the voters register becomes an issue of contestation. The country has made significant progress in its electoral administration over the past two decades for a voters register to always become a matter of dispute in every election year.
“All stakeholders must be part of a solution that ensures that under-age voters and foreigners do not register during these exercises. In that regard, there has to be a credible plan to ensure that even if the EC goes forward with compiling a new register, it will be the last time it physically collects biometric data,” it stated.