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Ghana Electoral Body Denies Candidates’ Disqualifications Politically Motivated

  • Peter Clottey

The campaign billboards of Ghana's two main political parties competing in this year's national elections are seen in the streets of Accra in Ghana, Oct. 8, 2016.

The campaign billboards of Ghana's two main political parties competing in this year's national elections are seen in the streets of Accra in Ghana, Oct. 8, 2016.

The Electoral Commission of Ghana sharply rejected accusations that its decision to disqualify presidential candidates from participating in the December 7 general election was politically motivated.

The Electoral Commission disqualified 12 presidential candidates, including the former first lady, Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings, presidential candidate for the opposition National Democratic Party (NDP) - for failing to meet requirements it stipulated ahead of the September 30 deadline to file nomination documents.

The electoral body says the presidential candidates who are qualified to participate in the elections include incumbent President John Dramani Mahama, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo from the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Ivor Kobina Greenstreet of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and Jacob Osei Yeboah, an independent candidate.

In an interview with VOA, Eric Dzakpasu, spokesman for the electoral commission says the electoral body worked within the confines of the country’s electoral laws. He says accusations that the electoral commission disqualified some of the political candidates due to political considerations to benefit a particular group during the elections are unfortunate and regrettable.

“All these forms were scrutinized in line with the provisions of the law relative to the nomination of candidates, and inadequacies, omissions and irregularities were found on these forms," said Dzakpasu. "For instance the presidential candidates are supposed to have two registered voters per each of the administrative districts subscribing to their candidature, and a subscriber cannot subscribe to more than one candidate. And here were cases where we had one subscriber subscribing to more than two, three or four of the candidates and on each form, forged different kinds of signatures.”

'The law is there'

“The commission has written to them stating the grounds for the rejection of their nomination. So, the accusations that these are politically motivated designed to favor one or the other political parties is not true. The grounds for submission have been submitted to them, the law is there and they can relate their forms to the law and then establish whether indeed they compiled with the provisions of the law or not.”

The opposition Progressive People’s Party (PPP) rejected the group’s disqualification saying the electoral commission erred in its decision. The party filed a petition in court challenging the disqualification of its presidential candidate. This after the party also called on the National Peace Council – a group comprising prominent Ghanaians, to intervene on the party’s disqualification.

Supporters of the PPP also warned that the “stubbornness” of the electoral commission could plunge the country into chaos.

Dzakpasu disagreed and said threats by political parties to legally challenge their disqualification in court would not distract the electoral body from carrying out its constitutional mandate, which he says is to organize the upcoming presidential, parliamentary and local elections in December.

“The electoral commission is focused and it is applying the rules and regulations of the elections to its latter. Here is a case when you submit your nomination forms you have a time period for the corrections or omissions if any. These parties came for these forms…The commission directed them as to how to fill these forms…We even reminded them of the essentials of the forms to be filled. The electoral commission is just sticking to the rules and applying the law to the latter,” said Dzakpasu.

“When you ask some of these candidates who have been disqualified, they would tell you that what was detected in their forms, they classify them as minor administrative errors. Meanwhile, the law hasn’t created that room for discretion, where what they are describing as minor administrative errors could be accepted as basis for filing the nomination. So the electoral commission is not being stubborn, the electoral commission is just being firm and applying the rules fairly across board.”

Beginning next week, Dzakpasu says the qualified presidential candidates will participate in a lottery to determine where their names will appear on the ballots used for the election. He said the order of the presidential candidates would also determine the lineup on the ballot for parliamentary candidates from the respective parties.

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