A former Speaker of Parliament, Mr Peter Ala Adjetey, has advised that the power to suspend or revoke the registration of political parties be taken away from the Electoral Commission (EC) and be vested in the High Court of Justice.
“It is felt that if political parties are to be democratic in their organisation and in their operation as required by the Constitution, their power to exist and carry out their duties should not be largely at the mercy of a body like the EC,” he said.
Mr Adjetey made the suggestion at a day's workshop on the proposed Political Parties Bill, 2007, and the Public Funding of Political Parties Bill, 2007.
The workshop was organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) to introduce the two proposed bills to the Parliamentary Standing Committees on Finance and of Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs and to leaders of the four political parties with representation in Parliament with the view to gaining their input into the legislation work.
The proposed Political Parties Bill was a result of the review of an existing one. The review was done by Mr Adjetey while the State Funding for Political Parties Bill was drafted by Professor Kofi Kumado, Director, Legon Centre for International Affairs (LECIA), under the auspices of the IEA.
Mr Adjetey noted that under the existing Political Parties Law, the EC was given power, exercisable at its discretion, to take action or institute measures against political parties, which were in their nature punitive or draconian, saying that such powers had to be taken away from the EC and vested in the High Court.
He argued that under the High Court, political parties would have the benefit of the application of summary procedure, which would allow for swift determination of such matters with the usual rights of appeal all the way through the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court.
Mr Adjetey said the three fold purpose of the review of the existing law was to make it friendlier for political parties, reduce the burden of the EC in dealing with issues regarding political parties and to make the political parties law more realistic and sustainable for present conditions in Ghana.
He said in the proposed bill, the basic structure of the existing one was largely maintained, and the volume also kept within the confines of the existing one, adding that care was taken to ensure each new proposal was consistent with the 1992 Constitution.
Mr Adjetey described the Constitution as rigid and over-detailed, saying that was regrettable, in that it made it difficult to amend its provisions smoothly to facilitate the growth of Ghana's young democracy.
Mr Ben Kumbour, NDC-Laura Nandom, raised questions about the speedy resolution of issues involving political parties at the courts and urged that the transfer powers of the EC to the Courts should be carefully studied.
Mr. Adu Darko Mantey, NPP-Korley-Klotey and Chairman of the Parliamentary Finance Committee and Mr. Kojo Armah, Member of the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committees each pledged their respective support for the Bill.
Brig. Gen. Francis A. Agyemfra, Senior Fellow of IEA, who presided, said it was imperative that various pieces of legislation affecting political parties were liberal, flexible and friendly towards their objectives, adding, political parties in Ghana agreed that it was not so in their case, hence the need to undertake the review of the laws.