EC set for legal showdown over two by-elections
7/4/2012 6:30:29 AM -
The Electoral Commission (EC) is throwing caution to the winds by insisting that it would go ahead with the planned Wulensi and Afigya Kwabre constituencies by-elections amidst threats of boycott from the NPP and uncertainties from the NDC.
The CPP is calling for an Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting to resolve the impasse.
The NPP is also warning of an avoidable legal showdown that will haunt the EC if it persists in using the old register.
Speaking on Joy News' current affairs program pm:EXPRESS, the EC's Principal Public Relations Officer, Sylvia Annor stressed that the Commission's would go ahead with the old voters register. “That is the valid register we have now because it has gone through the mill…peoples' names have been captured, it has been exhibited and corrections made while we have also used it to vote…the Commission says it has the mandate to use the old register. That is the only valid register we have now. The biometric register is incomplete and it is yet to be exhibited”.
But the Member of Parliament for Manhyia and Director of Electoral Affairs of the NPP, Mathew Opoku Prempeh has maintained the EC is dabbling in a serious illegality that would expose it to legal battles.
He argued, going ahead with the old voters register would mean the EC is disenfranchising people who have turned 18 and are empowered by the constitution to vote in the by elections.
“Constitutional Instrument (CI) regulation 1995 replaces the CI 12 that was revoked – CI 12 is hereby revoked which means cancelled. The law says we don't have a valid register existing. The EC cannot sit in the comfort of their offices and interpret the law for us. They did not even put in any saving clauses”.
Mathew Opoku Prempeh questioned the haste with which EC wants to go ahead with the old register and perpetuate what he describes as “a gargantuan illegality”.
He argued that the country would just be wasting state resources especially as the results will be widely contested.
“Old register is invalid, new one has not been certified. Country lacks a valid voters' register. Until that is resolved, no election can be conducted without a challenge,” he said.
The ruling NDC and the CPP backed the argument that it is wrong for the EC to conduct the Wulensi and Afigya Kwabre by-elections with the old register.
The parties believe an inter-party advisory committee meeting will be beneficial in fashioning out a way to have the elections without subjecting it to unnecessary challenge.
Deputy General Secretary of the NDC George Lawson said the EC needs to further interpret their decision at the Supreme Court to use the old register which has now been outlawed by a constitutional instrument.
“We are torn between two evils… one lesser and one greater. We think we need an interpretation for this. We are ready for the elections but once we don't have a valid register we cannot have it. The electoral commission is saying the old register is the valid register… we must test this it at the Supreme Court,” he said.
CPP's Director of Communications Nii Armah Akomfra suggested that the EC should delay the election to ensure the country goes through a process that is not subjected to a challenge. “We think the sensible thing to have done is to present this to the political parties and lay things bare to discuss how this can be resolved”.
Nevertheless, the EC's Principal PRO Silvia Annor still maintained, though the old register had been revoked it was compiled based on a law and therefore can be used in the by-election.