The Third Force Alliance (TFA), a coalition of some minority parties, has called on parliament to reject the Electoral Commission’s (EC’s) proposed Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) seeking to make the Ghana card the sole document for voter’s registration. According to the group, the new C.I. was not only obnoxious and unconstitutional but also inimical to the tenets of participatory democracy in the country. Mr Awudu Ishaq, National Communications Secretary of the Peoples National Convention (PNC) and Spokesperson for the group, made the call at a press conference in Accra. The TFA comprises the Peoples National Convention, Progressive People’s Party (PPP) and Ghana United Movement (GUM). Mr Ishaq also stated that the group had observed the spirited attempt by the EC to railroad the C.I. through the process despite some of the objectionable provisions that have occasioned numerous calls by well-meaning Ghanaians and identifiable stakeholders on the EC to abandon the C.I. He further stated that the new C.I. would lead to the disenfranchisement of millions of Ghanaians and thereby occasion unjustifiable voter suppression should it be allowed to stand in its current form. ‘Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution guarantees every Ghanaian citizen who is eighteen years and above and of sound mind, the inalienable right to register and vote in public elections and referenda. ‘This very Constitution further enjoins the EC in Article 45 to undertake programmes for the expansion of the registration of voters, and no to limit or restrict registration of voters as the EC is seeking to do through this C.I.’ He said. Mr Ishaq also noted that the teething challenges that continued to bedevil the Ghana Card registration process made the new proposed C.I. even more objectionable. He said apart from logistical and network concerns, the operations of the National Identification Authority (NIA) have been hamstring by financial constraints. He said these financial challenges as the NIA itself has disclosed have led to 3.5 million blank cards being locked up in a bonded warehouse due to NIA’s indebtedness to its private partner, Identity Management Systems (IMS), while another 645, 663 cards are yet to be issued to Ghanaians who have completed their registrations. Additionally, about 631,847 cards have not been printed while an estimated 2.5 million Ghanaians are yet to be registered in the first place. Mr Ishaq also stated that apart from the impediments in acquiring the Ghana Card, the EC is proposing to completely abandon its own guarantor system which has been integrated into L.I.2111 (2012), the very law regulating the issuance of the Ghana Card. Mr Ishaq said the decision by the EC to abandon the registration of voters at polling stations and electoral area levels for registration at district centres would hugely disenfranchise a greater majority of prospective voters considering the geographical outlook of the districts across the country. He said the arrangement would require people to travel long distances in order to access the registration centres in the districts. He said apart from inconveniencing prospective voters, this would further place a financial burden on the very Ghanaians whose economic and financial circumstances have been worsened by the government as these prospective voters would be required to pay exorbitant lorry fares to get to the registration centres at the various district capitals. ‘This is unacceptable to any sane and objective-minded Ghanaian and must not be allowed to happen,’ he said.
Source: Ghana News Agency