Ghana’s main opposition New Patriotic Party has petitioned the Electoral Commission to compile a new voter list for next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections.
Some other opposition parties have backed the call for a new voter register, but some civil society groups and the ruling National Democratic Congress say the current voter register compiled in 2012 is credible.
Christian Owusu-Parry, the Electoral Commission’s Acting Director of Public Affairs says the electoral body plans to organize a September 22 stakeholder’s workshop. He says parties will be able to present their views before a decision is made about a new voter list.
“The commission is giving everybody a hearing, so the commission has asked that all stakeholders, not just the political parties and other civil society groups, if they have any view on the register they should make their views and positions known to the electoral commission,” Owusu-Parry said.
“Indeed the commission intends to have some stakeholder workshops to look at the cases people are making against the voter register and for everyone who has a position on the register to come in to show what concerns they have and what they propose that challenges that they have identified can be addressed,” he added.
“The commission has given the stakeholders up to the 22nd of this month to submit their positions, both soft copy and hard copy, to the commission to study before the day of the workshop. That is how the commission is approaching the situation as of now.”
Commission's efforts welcome
Owusu-Parry says the political parties have welcomed the stance of the electoral commission in trying to find ways to resolve the controversy surrounding the calls for a new voter list.
Some Ghanaians have questioned whether the electoral body has the needed funds to organize a fresh voter register. But Owusu-Parry says the outcome of the stakeholders’ workshop will determine the next line of action.
“We are not talking about finances at the moment, until a decision is made to replace the voter register. But if that becomes the decision, [and] if after the workshop the commissions finds it necessary to replace the voters register, we will prepare a budget and submit it to government,” said Owusu-Parry.
The electoral commission recently concluded administering the local government election.
Owusu-Parry says the electoral commission will soon begin consultations with stakeholders and political parties before embarking on implementing measures as part of its preparations ahead of next year’s elections. He expressed confidence the 2016 general election would be transparent and credible.
“I want to assure the people of Ghana that the Electoral Commission would do only that which is in the interest of the entire nation. So after the consultations have taken place at the workshop, the commission will take a decision and we believe that that decision will be in the interest of the nation,” Owusu-Parry said.