Group petitions N/R House of Chiefs over new voters’ register
The Northern Regional Branch of the Coalition of Political Parties has petitioned the Northern Regional House of Chiefs over the Electoral Commission’s plan to compile a new voters’ register for the 2020 polls.
The group wants the Chiefs to impress upon the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Jean Mensa to halt the exercise.
The group explained that its demand is borne out of its observation of the EC‘s stance on matters regarding the compilation of a new register.
“We, the Coalition of Political Parties against the Compilation of a New Register in the Northern Region resolve to petition Your Royal Majesty, President of the Northern Regional House of Chiefs, to as a matter of utmost urgency, intervene to stop the Electoral Commission of Ghana, from its attempt to mar Ghana’s enviable democracy, through its unpopular quest to compile a new register for the fast impending Parliamentary and Presidential elections in December.”
“Not only has the EC taken a hardened position on matters of the new register, but it has also shown gross dishonesty and lack of transparency in its engagement with political parties and the Ghanaian citizens. The EC has demonstrated a profound lack of credibility and inconsistency in matters of the unfounded new register, leading to a very tense atmosphere, even before the elections. “
The group further indicated that calls for the compilation to be rescinded are justified due to a continuous surge in COVID-19 cases.
“More so, Ghana, like many nations across the world has been hit with the COVID-19 pandemic and the quest to gather millions of Ghanaians across the country for mass registration is a risk that comes with a huge price.”
Two Civil Society groups, Alliance for Social Equity and Public Accountability (ASEPA) and IMANI Africa recently petitioned Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II to call on the EC to rescind its decision to compile a new voters’ register for the 2020 general elections.
The tensions over the register have led the National Democratic Congress (NDC) accusing the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) of conniving with the EC and the National Identification Authority (NIA) to rig the 2020 elections.
Nonetheless, the EC is still expected to begin the voter registration exercise later in June 2020.
The EC wants to ensure that the register that is used on the election day is more credible and efficient than the existing one, hence the need for a new Biometric Voter Management System (BVMS).
Below is the statement from the group
The Coalition of Political Parties against the Compilation of a New Register
Northern Regional Branch
Tamale, Northern Region
Your Royal Majesty, the President
Northern Regional House of Chiefs
Tamale, Northern Region
Date: May 3, 2020.
PETITION: THE ELECTORAL COMMISSION AND THE NEW REGISTER
We, the Coalition of Political Parties against the Compilation of a New Register in the Northern Region resolve to petition Your Royal Majesty, President of the Northern Regional House of Chiefs, to as a matter of utmost urgency, intervene to stop the Electoral Commission of Ghana, from its attempt to mar Ghana’s enviable democracy, through its unpopular quest to compile a new register for the fast impending Parliamentary and Presidential elections in December.
Your Royal Majesty and Chiefs of the Northern Region hold a significant stake in the growth and development of the country’s democracy, to which you’ve demonstrated remarkable commitment in consolidating, over the decades, no matter which party is in government. This and your roles in consolidating peace, law and order in the country make you an institution worth calling upon, especially, on troubling occasions like this with the potential of leading our enviable democracy into a state of topsy turvydom.
Not only has the EC taken a hardened position on matters of the new register, it has shown gross dishonesty and lack of transparency in its engagement with political parties and the Ghanaian citizens. The EC has demonstrated profound lack of credibility and inconsistency in matters of the unfounded new register, leading to a very tense atmosphere, even before the elections.
Further, the EC from all indications, despite the nationwide rejection of the idea of a new register, has failed to adopt a consultative approach in dealing with stakeholders, including the Chieftaincy institution, over deliberating on what is best for the country at this material moment. The EC is on record to have refused a call by the National House of Chiefs to hold a discussion on how to engender dialogue in matters of the new register. Calls by reputable Civil Society Organizations to the EC to this effect have also been shunned and treated with contempt. In fact, the electoral body has assumed a rigid posturing to the suspicion of most citizens who wonder if it can be fair in the impending elections.
To worsen the situation, the EC in the CI it has sent to Parliament seeks to disenfranchise millions of Ghanaian citizens, by limiting the proof of citizenship to only passport and the national ID card. We create your Royal Majesties’ indulgence, that, this attempt to leave millions of Ghanaians out the electoral roll is a great potential for disaster and political riots in our peaceful democracy. The Northern Region has an estimated 981, 947 people who’re 18 years in the NIA roll. Out of this, only 328,115 people have had their cards issued. This implies that 653,832 people, representing 66.59% have not yet been issued cards. An analysis of the NIA data on Northern Region makes it safe to conclude that using the national ID as proof of citizenship will deny too many Northern citizens the right to franchise. This, we find very disturbing, as it fits in the agenda to limit the democratic rights of a people. For many, it is a decision that will create chaos and mayhem.
The EC by this unwholesome decision categorically rejects the use of the current voters’ ID card and the birth certificate as proofs of citizenship. Your Royal Majesty, the question many Ghanaians have been asking is to the effect that it is strange the birth certificate, which is the source document for passport and the national ID cannot be accepted as a proof of citizenship, whilst the latter, borne out the birth certificate qualify one to be a citizen. This has further heightened suspicion and tension and your wisdom as agents of peace and development cannot be left unsought, at this crucial time.
More so, Ghana, like many nations across the world has been hit with the Covid-19 pandemic and the quest to gather millions of Ghanaians across the country for mass registration is a risk that comes with a huge price. As of the time of this petition, Ghana’s confirmed cases stand at over 9,168, with statistical evidence showing the number of confirmed cases have been increasing dramatically in recent weeks and days. Well-meaning citizens and Civil Society Organizations have appealed to the EC to consider the lives and health of citizens and opt for a limited registration to update the current register, as that would save Ghanaians from the risks associated with mass registration in a pandemic but the EC listens to no suggestions, no matter how sound and reasonable they are. In the circumstances, it is in the national interest to reason with all citizens and organizations that consider a limited registration as the best and most effective alternative. The EC is however adamant, with its go-to-hell posturing.
As a political party with the biggest contribution to building and consolidating Ghana’s democracy in the 4th Republic, we obviously are concerned about any attempts by persons or institutions seeking to destroy the gains this nation has made since 1992. The Coalition considers this democracy as a product of citizens’ love for the nation and always will stand on the way of any person or group of persons or institutions that plot to destroy it. It is against this reason of sound judgment, we petition your reputable institution, to add your voice to the many calls on the EC to stop the attempts to destroy a democracy we have spent decades nurturing. It is in our candid interest to have a free and fair election in December but every step taken by the EC so far gives no assurance that the impending election will be free and fair.
As we continue to fight for the voiceless citizens whose rights the EC wants to infringe upon, and whose health it risks, we have confidence in your swift intervention, to save our democracy. May the good Lord, keep blessing your royalty and grant you more wisdom to continue to lead.