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11.12.2007 Politics

ROPAL rears head in Parliament again

ROPAL rears head in Parliament again

The Representation of the Peoples Amendment Law (ROPAL) was revisited in Parliament Monday when the Parliamentary Special Budget Committee on the 2008 Budget reported on the Electoral Commission's (EC) consultations with identifiable local bodies on the possible implementation of the law.

Although approval of the budget was deferred to enable the commission to have further consultations and deliberations on it, the Minority in Parliament has said it will resist with reasonable force any attempts intended to effect the implementation of the Representation of the Act in the 2008 general elections.

According to the Minority Spokesperson on Communications, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, the implementation of the ROPAL was a recipe for chaos and confusion in the country.

Commenting on a motion for the approval of the 2008 Budget estimates for the Electoral Commission (EC), Mr Iddrisu said the Minority's stance on the subject was not negotiable.

He said the Constitution spelt out clearly that polls should be held in constituencies in the country, and wondered why polls should be held at places abroad, which are not part of the existing constituencies.

Mr Iddrisu explained that overseas countries were not extensions of the 230 constituencies in the country, adding that any decision, by the EC to implement ROPAL would be unacceptable by the Minority.

He said the country must jealously guard and protect the peace and stability which it had enjoyed for some decades and which, he said, was a product of the governance of the PNDC/NDC.

In its report to the house, the Parliamentary Special Budget Committee on the 2008 Budget said the consultations were intended to enable the EC to identify key issues in the implementation of the law with the view to instituting measures which would address such issues.

According to the report, which was laid on the floor of the House by Mr Okerchiri Adusa, a member of the committee, on behalf of the Chairman, Mr Abraham Ossei Aidooh, the year 2008 would be a very busy one for the EC.

The House then deferred the approval of the budget for the EC for further deliberations.

"It is the year in which programmes towards the conduct of the Presidential and Parliamentary elections will be executed. In this regard, a road map of activities has been constructed by the Commission to ensure vio¬lence-free and fair elections," the report said.

It stated further that the EC would, among other activities to be carried out in 2008, review polling stations across the country in response to the effect of population dynamics on polling stations.

A review of the existing voters register would also be conducted to include those who had attained the age of 18, as well as those who had never registered, the report said, adding that the committee was informed that the exercise would be limited to the electoral area level.

"The Voters Register will be exhibited throughout the country at the polling station level to enable all registered Ghanaians to verify their names in the register. This will also help the commission to clean the register, notably by deleting names of the dead from it to make it more credible," the report said.

In addition, provisions had been made for any possible by-elections, at least two of such, be it Presidential or Parliamentary.

The report further explained that the committee had programmed to deepen and increase public participation in governance by fostering civic advocacy to nurture the culture of democracy.

Throwing more light on the commission's activities for the year 2008, the report said "recognising that 2008 was a year of elections, the stakes of which are very high for all players, the commission has programmed to enforce legal, operational and financial standards for party organization."

Programmes earmarked for the 2008 financial year, according to the report, included the completion of the construction of the Regional Office at Wa and the complex to accommodate the national stores.

Within the same period, constructional works on the Greater Accra Regional Office and the Upper East Regional Office at Bolgatanga would be completed, the ICT infrastructure would be expanded while new vehicles and communication equipment would be procured.

Meanwhile, the Minority in Parliament has said it will resist with reasonable force any attempts intended to effect the implementation of the Representation of the People's Amendment Act (ROPAA) in the 2008 general elections.

In another development, the House approved by a unanimous decision the 2008 Budget Estimates of GH¢4.1 million for the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).

In its observations and recommendations on the CHRAJ, the Special Budget Committee on the 2008 Budget reiterated that like the other constitutionally established bodies, the core functions of the CHRAJ were service-focused and their service line in the budget was much more multifaceted, more involving and essentially more pivotal than the service activities of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

" Therefore, if there is a policy to effect an across-the-board decrease in service expenditure, such bodies and institutions as the CHRAJ, the primary functions of which are to provide services to the general public, may have to be considered," the report said.

The report also recommended the improvement in the conditions of service of the Commissioners of CHRAJ in order to check what it termed "the rather high attrition of the staff who are trained at great expense but end up leaving the commission for greener pastures elsewhere."