Key allies of President Akufo-Addo have over the past few weeks kick the Electoral Commission’s determination to compile a new voter’s register. The President and his party are in support for a new one.
Kweku Baako Jnr, Akoto Ampaw and Kwesi Pratt Jnr who are all friends of the President and together with him formed the Alliance for Change (AFC) in 1995 which organized the biggest demonstration in the history of Ghana, the ‘Kume Preko’ demonstration, have all kicked against the compilation of a new voter’s register for the general election slated for this December..
Akoto-Apaw, a private legal practitioner who is a partner with the President in his law firm and who was one of the lawyers who represented him at the Supreme Court during the infamous election petition hearing in 2013 was the first of his allies to kick against the EC’s plans.
Speaking on CitiTV, Akoto Ampaw advised the EC to drop the idea of compiling a new register because of time constraint and instead beef up the existing one for the general election.
Lawyer Ampaw, who is also a bosom friend of the President, said the circumstances of the times and the realities of the Covid-19 pandemic should inform the decision of the EC and Ghanaians at large that it is better to update the existing biometric register instead of introducing a new register.
He said the EC can find a best possible alternative for its relentless resolve to compile a new voter’s register. He suggested that the EC beef up the old register and clean it up as suggested by the NDC, the Coalition of Domestic Election Observers (CODEO) and other Civil Society Organizations, for use in the December general election. Mr Ampaw was worried about the times Ghanaians find themselves in as a people, hence his call to jettison thoughts of compiling a new voters register.
“If it becomes necessary that we cannot have a new voters register because of the circumstances of our time, it is a mark of leadership for the EC to pull out of that trajectory and find the best possible alternative solution and if the EC does that, it doesn’t show that it was wrong in its original position but the emergency circumstances are such that the most viable solution will be to use the old register and beef it up [no matter how] unsatisfactorily it may seem to the EC”, he said.
Kweku Baako Jnr, Managing Editor of the pro-NPP newspaper, “The New Crusading Guide’ r has also kicked against the EC’s belligerence in the ongoing conversation around the proposed new voter’s register. Making a contribution on the issue on Metro TV”s “Good Morning Ghana” programme recently, he said though he supports the idea of a new voter’s register, especially because of the proposed improvements in the technology, given the current circumstances Ghana finds itself in, the EC needs to drop the plan.
“As a realist, I don’t think we should worry ourselves going for a new voter’s register”, he said, advising the EC to put everything on hold and find ways and means of updating the current voters register which has served the country well from 2012 to date.
Mr Kwesi Pratt Jnr, Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper who is also a friend of President also equally expressed worry about the EC’s intransigence even when the realities of the times don’t support the idea of compiling a new voter’s register. Mr Pratt reminded the EC that it is not a “god” with unfettered powers, so it cannot suggest that its independence should imply arbitrary use of power. He enjoined the EC to work within its mandate as given it by the 1992 constitution in article 45.
Mr Charles Yves Wereko Brobbey, a former close ally of President Akufo-Addo and a founding member of the NPP has also criticized the EC’s plan to damn the consequences of compiling a new voters register in the midst of a pandemic and heightened political tension towards a major election.
In an editorial piece, he opined that until the registration and distribution of Ghana Card is completed to cover close to 100% of the Ghanaian population, there cannot be a justifiable basis to use the Ghana Card as the major primary document for registration for a new voter’s register. He therefore urged the EC and those pushing it to embark on the exercise to be wise.
Other Front liners and popular voices who joined the chorus of kicking against the new voter’s register are Hon PC Appiah Ofori, a former NPP Member of Parliament for Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa and a Founding Member of the NPP.
“In the face of the raging coronavirus pandemic and the strain on limited resources, there is no need to throw out everything and acquire totally new infrastructure when the present system could be augmented and made capable of performing the task” he said.
Civil Society Organizations in the country including CODEO, the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), the Center for Democratic Development (CDD), IMANI AFRICA and a host of political parties have called on the EC to jettison the idea of a new voter’s register with the general election only a few months away.