EC completes 1st phase of demarcation process
The Electoral Commission (EC) on Wednesday said it has completed the first phase of a programme to sensitise Ghanaians on constitutional provisions governing the demarcation of new electoral areas.
Mr Kwame Damoah-Agyeman, Chief Director of Elections at the EC, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that the nation-wide tour created awareness about the process of drawing new electoral boundaries. The public was also educated on where to direct petitions from the public on demarcation of new electoral areas.
He said people had erroneously held the notion that the creation of new districts or constituencies would accelerate the development of the area without due consideration to constitutional procedures.
The sensitisation programme started in Accra on October 16. The regional programme started from Bolgatanga and Sekondi, October 18, and continued at Tamale and Cape Coast, October 19, Kumasi, October 22, Koforidua and Wa, October 24, Ho, October 25 and Sunyani, October 26.
Mr Damoah-Agyeman said an assessment of requests for the creation of new constituencies, districts or electoral areas would be based on constitutional provisions.
He said most of the petitions and memoranda relating to the creation of new electoral areas received have not been properly packaged and expressed the hope that after the sensitisation programme the communities would conform to the formalities involved.
"Politicians, chiefs and the media need to understand rules relating to the creation of new electoral areas." The constitutional provision mandating the Commission to create electoral boundaries for both national and local government elections states: "The number of inhabitants of the constituency should be nearly equal to the population quota."
The population quota should also be considered with "communication, geographical features, population density, area and boundaries".
Mr Damoah-Agyeman said the Constitution mandates the EC to review existing demarcation at intervals of not less than seven years or within 12 months after having a national population census. He said any review of the electoral boundaries should come into effect upon the next dissolution of Parliament.
The commission would also consider the economic viability of the area, national resources, the sitting capacity of Parliament, number of committee rooms in the House and its general effect on the national economy.
The criteria for demarcating electoral boundaries for both national and local government elections are as follows: "Demarcation of local government administrative areas is guided by the need to decentralise to bring administration closer to the people."
Other criteria for consideration for demarcating local government administrative areas are that the population of the districts must be large enough to include an appreciable number of economically active groups that could be relied upon for the initial capitalisation of the administration through taxation.
The rest include economic viability, availability of trained personnel and an administrative centre. The chosen centre should also have basic infrastructure that support schools, daily markets, health facilities and other government agencies.
Mr Damoah-Agyeman explained that request for the creation of districts and the substructures should be presented to the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development while the commission handles that for the creation of constituencies and electoral areas.