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03.05.2007 General News

EC tasked to implement ROPAL for Elections 2008

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Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration is asking the Electoral Commission to implement the Representation of the People's Amendment Law (ROPAL) for Elections 2008.

"Laws on the statute books, which are unapplied, undermine the rule of law, in view of this fact, Government expect the EC to ensure that the new law is applied as soon as possible, preferably for the next popular consultations (elections) scheduled for December 2008," the Foreign Minister stated.

Nana Akufo-Addo who was addressing participants at a political stakeholders forum on external voting system in Accra urged the EC to initiate the necessary negotiations toward mobilising funds to meet the implementation challenges.

The forum was organised by International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) on the theme: "Bringing the Gap between Research, Policy and Practise - Lessons for Ghana."

He said Government recognised the additional burdens, especially the financial challenges that ROPAL imposed on the operations of the EC, stressing; "It is our expectation that the Commission would negotiate these additional financial requirements with the relevant public authorities so that adequate resources would be found to enable the EC carry out its constitutional and statutory obligations for Elections 2008."

Speaking on external voting, Nana Akufo-Addo explained that the demand was borne out of a desire to ensure equal enjoyment by the citizenry of their inalienable rights, wherever they may reside.

According to the Minister, International Organisation for Migration (IOM) had estimated over 200 million people living outside their home country of citizenship but contribute tremendously towards developments in the homeland.

For those people, Nana Akufo-Addo said external voting would serve as logical process of enfranchising them.

He said the removal of the restrictive clause from the statute book and the passage of the ROPAL would enhance the quality of the Ghanaian democratic governance.

He commended the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government, which initiated the first process with the passage of Citizenship Act 2000, which granted for the first time the right to dual citizenship by Ghanaian citizens.

Sharing the Mexican experience with Ghana, Mr Carlos Navarro, Director of Mexican Electoral Studies, Federal Institute for Elections cautioned Ghanaian electoral administrators to hasten slowly to ensure that effective operational mechanism were put in place.

He said Mexico with all the resources at its disposal, use nine-years from the passage of the bill to its implementation stage.

Speaking on Global Trends in External Voting-History, Legal Framework, Entitlement as an External Voter, Observation of External Voting, Ms Maria Gratchew, IDEA Sweden noted that external voting was very expensive as it cost close to 80 million dollars to organise it.

She urged the electoral administrators to give the process much more attention and time for its implementation.

Source: GNA

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