Ghana’s main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) party is accusing the country’s electoral commission of indefinitely postponing a voter registration exercise ahead of this year’s general elections. The NDC says it is concerned the commission’s unilateral decision could undermine the credibility of this year’s vote. But the electoral commission claims it is currently facing logistical problems, which forced the postponement.
Some political analysts, however, say the postponement could be related to a recent discovery that the ruling New Patriotic Party’s voter registry is reportedly bloated with names. From the capital Accra, NDC national organizer Samuel Ofosu-Ampofo tells reporter Peter Clottey that the electoral commission is undermining Ghana’s young democracy.
“We are very worried because in the run-up to the 2004 elections. A similar postponement took place and the electoral register was released to the political parties via CD-ROM less than a week to the election. And it was extremely difficult for the political parties to print out the registers in all the 21-thousand or so polling stations and distribute them to their agents. And we felt that we need to learn a lesson from this and refrain from repeating that sort of mistake. In fact, the electoral commission has postponed this exercise twice, and indications are that if we are not careful, we are going to run into similar difficulties,” Ofosu-Ampofo noted.
He said the electoral Commission’s unilateral decision will frustrate other Ghanaians residing abroad who planned to return to be part of the postponed registration exercise.
“As we speak now, there are several Ghanaians who are in different countries the world over who took into consideration the date set by the electoral commission because they wanted to come to Ghana, register, and participate in the electoral process. And so to postpone the thing unceremoniously, and without any consultation is something that we take great exception to,” he said.
Ofosu-Ampofo said his party has registered its protest over the bloated voting register.
“We raised these issues at the IPAC (Inter-Party Advisory Committee) meeting, and a committee has been set up, and the committee is working. And according to the electoral commission the committees have been given two weeks to submit their findings and for that matter, they felt that this exercise (voter registration) could go on whilst the committees finalizes its work,” Ofosu-Ampofo noted.
He said the opposition party is displeased with how the electoral commission handled the voter registration postponement.
“Our worry is that the electoral commission has not assigned any reason for the indefinite postponement. In fact, they just came and said that the digital cameras that they were expecting had not arrived. And we have cause to believe that either the government is not giving them the necessary funding to undertake their exercise, or the electoral commission is refusing to take it and explain this to the people,” he said.