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03.05.2007 General News

Government asks EC to implement ROPAL

By The Ghanaian Times

The government has asked the Electoral Commission (EC) to institute measures for the implementation of the Representation of the People's Amendment Law (ROPAL) that has extended more voting rights to Ghanaians abroad.

"There is the expectation that the Commission will do its best to ensure that the new law is applied as soon as possible, preferably for the next great popular consultation elections scheduled for December 2008," Nana Akufo-Addo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and NEPAD, announced in Accra on Wednesday.

Addressing a stakeholders forum on external voting, he acknowledged that the passage of the Act had imposed additional burden on the EC in terms of financing its implementation, but he said “it is the expectation that the EC will negotiate these additional financial requirements with the relevant public authorities so that adequate resources will be found to enable the Commission to carry out its constitutional and statutory obligations.”

He said the ultimate responsibility for the implementation of the system of external voting lay with the EC, stressing, "laws on the statute books that are unapplied, undermine the rule of law."

Although the introduction of the external voting system in Ghana had generated debate and legitimate public concerns such as the identification of Ghanaians abroad and how transparent the system could be, Nana Akufo-Addo expressed optimism that it would be successful to enhance the nation's efforts at entrenching democracy, especially with the introduction of the national identification system.

He noted that about 100 countries around the globe which have similar characteristics as Ghana are practising external voting and "it should not be difficult for us to design a system most suitable to our circumstances."

According to him the Act should enhance the quality of the country's democratic governance since the exercise of the right to vote is at the heart of an authentic system of democratic accountability.

The forum, organised by the International Institute for Democratic and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) was to create a platform for stakeholders in the electoral process to discuss effective way to implement the external voting in Ghana.

It was attended by representatives of research institutions, policy makers, political parties and experts on external voting from Ghana and other countries in Africa, Asia and Europe.

It had the theme: “Bridging the gap between research, policy and practice - Lessons for Ghana.”

Theophilus Dowetin, West Africa Programme Manager of IDEA, explained that the forum was part of the Institute's assistance to support Ghana in strengthening her democratic process.

Source: The Ghanaian Times