Ghana’s President John Dramani Mahama, from the ruling National Democratic Congress, main opposition leader Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo from the New Patriotic Party and other presidential candidates have picked up nomination documents from the Electoral Commission ahead of the December 7 general election. Parliamentary candidates also began picking up their nomination forms.
The candidates are required to pay $12,505 while parliamentary candidates pay $2,501 as nomination fees in addition to meeting other requirements outlined by the electoral commission.
September 29 and 30 are the only dates the electoral commission has set for the official filing of nomination for all candidates who want to participate in the elections, according to spokesman Eric Dzakpasu.
“We’ve given the opportunity to all prospective candidates to come and pick their nomination forms, and then fill it, provide the necessary documentation and then the filing fees so that they can file them on 29th and 30th of September. As at the close of work on the 15th of September, 14 party candidates and three independent candidates have come to pick the forms for processing,” said Dzakpasu.
“A key requirement for the processing of the nomination forms to make it valid for the filing is that each presidential candidate should be able to get two registered voters per each district assembly administrative area in the country. We have about 216 of the districts so the requirement is that you would be getting 432 signatories across the country to endorse your candidature.”
Officials of the electoral commission came under criticism after some candidates accused them as well as the ruling NDC of undermining their efforts to file their nomination documents in the 2012 general election. Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings from the opposition National Democratic Party said her efforts to represent her party as the presidential candidate during the 2012 were sabotaged.
Dzakpasu says the electoral commission is not to blame for the inability of the candidates to meet requirements as outlined by the electoral body before the last elections.
“In 2012, it is very true some political parties and some candidates couldn’t file their nomination for the simple reason that they failed to satisfy the legal requirement as stated in the law. So, this year round, the laws are available to them, the onus is on them, they have a duty, they have a responsibility to fully comply with the requirement for the filing of the nomination,” said Dzakpasu.
“For a presidential candidate you need to get the 232 signatories to sign the form. You must have a vice presidential candidate, you need to sign a statutory declaration to the effect that you are qualified to be elected as president or a member of parliament and you are not disqualified from contesting the election. In addition to this, you must provide four back-side red background pictures and then you pay your nomination fee. And this process must be done between the hours of 9-12 pm and then between 2-5 pm on the 29th and 30th September. Failing to comply with any of these requirements of the law would amount to a rejection of your nomination by the electoral commission.”
Some political parties have expressed concern about the “exorbitant” nomination fees set by the electoral commission. They say it appears the decision gives advantage to the so-called major parties ahead of the election. They have demanded the electoral commission rescind its decision.
But Dzakpasu says the Ghanaian electoral laws allow the commission to determine nomination fees for presidential and parliamentary candidates ahead of polls.
“When the fee was mentioned at the Interparty Advisory Committee level, most of the political parties raised concerns about the level of the fee, they complained that it was rather too high. So at the end of the day what the commission said was that it has taken notice of the concerns of the political parties, and that the commission would consider the possibility of a review," said Dzakpasu.