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24.05.2007 General News

ROPAA is a stupid law – Lee Ocran

By The Chronicle

The Member of Parliament for Jomoro, Mr. Lee Ocran, has described the ROPA as “a stupid law”.

The Chronicle newspaper reported him on Wednesday as saying that there were good and bad laws, but he thought that the law allowing Ghanaians resident outside the country to vote during elections ''is very stupid".

He was contributing to the raging debate on the implementation or otherwise of the law following a controversial meeting called by the Electoral Commission to discuss modalities for its implementation.

The Chairman of the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and Member of Parliament (MP) for Asuogyaman, Mr. Kofi Osei Ameyaw, believes there should be no need for a debate on the implementation of the Act.

He said before a bill becomes an Act, all consultations must have taken place and Parliament, with the powers to pass bills into laws, ought to be sure that it is enforced.

"In this case, the ROPAA is there and why we are waiting for its implementation"?

The MP was speaking to The Chronicle on whether the ROPAA should be implemented despite the recent boycott of some political parties at the inter-party meeting to discuss the matter.

"Parliament", he noted, "has done its bit, the President has given his assent and it is now in the domain of the Electoral Commission to do its work and come out with a constitutional instrument for Parliament to approve of it.”

Mr. Osei Ameyaw noted that the boycott of some parties at the inter-party meeting was neither here nor there because there was no constitutional or legal compulsion for anybody to be called for a meeting and the E.C was perhaps being simply courteous or reasonable.

He said if the EC was inviting them but they were not prepared to contribute, then that expressed the fact that they did not want to be part of the process that the E.C. had found necessary, adding that boycotts could not prevent the E.C. from going ahead with the provision.

But Lee Ocran does not agree with the assertions.

He also told The Chronicle that ''The fact that Parliament passed it and President assented to it does not make it a good law".

He added that it was better not to pass a law at all than to pass a law whose implementation could lead to chaos.

Lee Ocran explained that during the registration exercise before the 2004 elections, about 70,000 people in the Volta Region could not be registered because of inadequate materials to undertake the exercise.

People had to walk five to 10km to get registered instead of their own centres. So if in Ghana you are not able to have adequate resources to register the people who pay taxes here, certainly you have found resources to go outside and register Ghanaians there.

Lee Ocran said the law was discriminatory because as an MP, if he had to register, he would have to go to his constituency and if he found himself in Accra on voting day, he would have to travel there to vote, but those abroad would have the ballot boxes carried to them to vote. "That's why I say it's a stupid law".

The fact that you have passed a law does not make it a good law because in a democracy, there can be the foolishness of the majority. It is not always that the majority is right, he said.

He maintained that the law provides for every Ghanaian living everywhere to be given the chance to vote in all elections, not only presidential elections.

"If they decide to go on with this law, there would be chaos. Do you know the number of people in some islands elsewhere"?

He questioned what the NPP was afraid of since it was Ghanaians in the country who voted for them in 2000 and 2004 to power and wondered why they need presidential votes from outside before they can win.

Source: The Chronicle