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Ghana Court Lets Candidate Electoral Fees Stand

FILE - A man casts his vote at a polling station during a presidential election in Accra, Ghana, Dec. 7, 2012.

The electoral commission of Ghana says candidates for December's presidential and parliamentary elections must have all required fees paid by Monday.

The deadline was set after a court on Friday dismissed a petition by the opposition Progressive People's Party, which had contended that the fees were too high.

The commission had set a September 30 deadline for candidates to submit nomination forms and pay fees to be eligible for the December 7 election. It then put a hold on the fee payments because of the court challenge.

Presidential candidates must pay $12,505 each, and parliamentary candidates must pay $2,501, in addition to other requirements, commission spokesman Eric Dzakpasu said.

Critics said the purpose of the high fees, which had been increased 200 percent, was to discourage minor parties from competing in the presidential election.

Dzakpasu said Friday's ruling cleared the way for the electoral process to move forward.

"We announced to the political parties that they have up to Monday, 12 midday, to pay their filing fees in a banker's draft," he said. Once the fees are paid, he said, officials will "be able to determine those who are qualified to be candidates to contest the election."

Ballot process

Dzakpasu said 17 candidates had submitted presidential nomination forms — 15 party candidates and two independents — and that their places on the ballot would be determined by a blind draw.

Since 1992, the electoral commission has awarded contracts to local printing companies to print ballots. In past years, opposing parties have questioned the selection process for printing firms, contending that the printers' links to political groups could damage the elections' credibility.

Dzakpasu said the process this year has been fully transparent, since political parties could participate in the bidding process.

"The local companies have the capacity to print ballot papers for us," Dzakpasu said. "Next week or thereabouts, after we have finished receiving the nominations, we would open the tenders for ... bid, after which we would select the companies ... to proceed with the printing of ballot papers." The security measures taken allow all political parties to be involved in the printing, packaging and transportation of ballots, he said.

During the coming week, Dzakpasu said, "Ghanaians should expect a full list of all persons who are contesting the elections in the 275 constituencies of the country, then a full list of all the presidential candidates."

Subsequently, he said, "we will come out with a notice of nomination, which would give some detailed information about the candidates, their details, and then the persons who have subscribed to their candidature. And in due course, we will come out with a notice of poll, which is a pictorial representation of the various candidates in all the constituencies and at the national level."