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Ghana Electoral Commission to Weigh New Voter Lists

President of Ghana John Dramani Mahama (l) shakes hands with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, before a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the India Africa Forum Summit, in New Delhi, India, Oct. 28, 2015.

A five-member panel of the Electoral Commission of Ghana will begin receiving presentations Thursday from political parties and other stakeholders who are demanding a new voter list for next year’s general election.

The parties will have two days to present their views about the current voter list to the panel at a forum in the capital, Accra.

Ghanaians go to the polls next year to vote in presidential, legislative and local elections.

The main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) recently petitioned the electoral commission expressing concern about the credibility of the voter list. The party claimed the voter list is compromised, which it says will undermine the credibility of the elections. Other opposition parties backed the NPP’s call for a new voter register.

But supporters of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and other stakeholders maintain that the voter list is credible. They accused the opposition party of preparing grounds to cite the voter register as an excuse for not accepting the outcome of the elections.

Panel to listen to all sides

Silvia Annoh, spokesperson of the electoral commission, says the five-member panel will listen to all sides and then present its report to the electoral commission for a decision to be made whether to compile a new voters list.

Mrs. Silvia Annoh, spokesperson for the Electoral Commission of Ghana (Photo courtesy, Silvia Annoh).
Mrs. Silvia Annoh, spokesperson for the Electoral Commission of Ghana (Photo courtesy, Silvia Annoh).

“The electoral commission believes in the panel members selected to man the forum. Members of the panel are eminent Ghanaians who are ready to work for the electoral commission and they were selected based on the fact that they are authorities based in their own fields of endeavor,” said Annoh.

The five-member panel is led by Professor VCRAC Crabbe, Co-Chair of the Coalition for Domestic Election Observers, (CODEO), who is a former Justice of Ghana’s Supreme Court, and a former electoral commissioner.

Supporters of the NPP say the five-member panel is biased, saying two members of the group have publicly voiced their opposition to the party’s demands for a new voter list. The NPP will however participate in the presentation on Thursday despite demands by some party members to boycott the event.

Annoh says the panel will be impartial and transparent.

“The commission had an inter-party advisory meeting and indicated that all political parties, including stakeholders and faith-based organizations, should make proposals to the electoral commission on the current voter register," she said. "And the commission gave a deadline within which all the parties should submit the proposals.’

Ghanaians have expressed concern about whether the electoral commission would have funds and the time to undertake a major task such as the compilation of a new voter list ahead of the elections, as demanded by the opposition and some civil society groups.

Electoral spokesperson Annoh says the electoral body will be prepared to administer next year’s poll.

“At the end of the day it is the commission who decides to have a new voters register; definitely when we get to that bridge we will cross it,” said Annoh.