Tuesday, March 17, 2015

CSO Platform Cites EC, Parliament For Botched 2014 District Level ElectionsP

Alhassan M. Awal
The Civil Society Platform on Good Governance in the Northern Region has blamed the botched 2014 District Assembly and Unit Committee Elections on the failure of the Electoral Commission and Parliament to implement key findings surrounding the elections of 2010 which suffered apparent difficulties.

According to a petition presented by the Platform to government, during the 2010 District Assembly and Unit Committee Elections, the Electoral Commission (EC) postponed 8 out of 10 regions election dates 5-times before the execution of the elections in different months from 29th December, 2010 to 4th January, 2011. The result of this development, the petition said, was the great apathy that greeted the event.

 “In line with challenges suffered during the 2010 elections, parliament set up a twenty (20) member Fact Finding Ad hoc Committee to investigate issues surrounding the apparent difficulties of the EC in conducting the originally 28th December, 2010 District Assembly and Unit Committee Elections and to make recommendations to parliament to forestall recurrence in future elections”, Platform Chairman Alhassan Mohammed Awal who signed the petition, said.

Portions of the Committee’s report made available to Savannahnews, said “It was revealed that the period between the time of releasing of L.I. 1983 and the filing of nomination was too short and could not allow for effective interaction with the public, especially the prospective candidates of the respective newly created Electoral Areas/Unit Committees.

“Again, the postponement of election date and the conduct of election on different dates at different polling stations affected the quantum of funds and other resources allocated for public education. Public education information had to be changed to suit different communities as to when voting was taking place. Most District Electoral Officers found it difficult to communicate the new dates of election to electorates in different areas which could not vote. There were instances where the election date had been postponed but District Electoral Officers themselves did not know the new dates”, the report said.

Parliament of Ghana
Following this, Mr. Awal noted that, the 20 member fact finding Committee among others recommended that: “The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development in consultation with the EC should fix firm date for the conduct of the District Level Elections in the country. This will enable the EC to work towards that date and to avoid the tendency of postponing elections.

“The Committee realizing that, said there are a lot of processes and programmes that need to be rolled-out timorously by the EC to both prevent the mishaps associated with the 2010 District Assembly Elections happening again and also ensuring transparency and fair conduct of 2012 elections. This involves a lot of stakeholders working efficiently and effectively (Executive, Parliament, Judiciary, etc). Parliament is being urged to maintain this Committee to monitor the electoral process and report periodically to parliament,” he revealed.

Mr. Awal said the EC and Parliament were supposed to work hand in hand for the successful execution of the 3rd March, 2015 elections due to the Committee’s recommendation. Adding, he observed that, the inability of the two institutions to work together resulted in the cancellation of the entire elections and also led to the waste of a huge sum of GHȼ317 million of the tax payers’ money spent in preparing for the exercise.

The petition said both the EC and the Parliament of Ghana woefully failed Ghanaians and demanded of the two institutions to restore the confidence of citizens in their mandates as state institutions by ensuring that the recommendation to have a fix date for District Level Elections was adhered to.   

Dr. Afari Gyan, EC Chairman
It urged Parliament and the EC to as a matter of urgency act swiftly to have an LI within the shortest possible time to ensure that the District Level Elections were organized within the shortest possible time to avoid throwing the nation into a constitutional crisis.

It also said government must as a matter of urgency provide the needed resources for the EC to organize the election once a date was fixed and do same for the National Commission for Civic Education to carryout voter education to deal with voter apathy and restore voter interest in the District Level Elections.

The petition further suggested that, any individual or group of people who have done Ghanaians this great disservice must be shown the exit immediately whereas parliament must enact a law that would ensure that presidential, parliamentary and district level lections were organized together on the same day.

The Northern Regional Minister Alhaji Mohammed Muniru Limuna who received the petition on behalf of the government, though commended the Platform for championing a good course, also chastised them for not alert the government and parliament earlier enough to act on the report of the Committee.

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