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11.03.2008 Politics

Bloated voters register: EC investigates alone

By myjoyonline
Bloated voters register: EC investigates alone
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Listen to Yorke Aidoo in an interview with Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah

For once, the New Patriotic Party and the National Democratic Congress have found a common voice in disagreeing with the Electoral Commission over its decision to investigate the alleged bloated voters register all alone.

Mr. Samuel Yorke Aidoo, acting Head of Public Affairs and Human Resources at the EC, told Joy FM's Super Morning Show on Tuesday morning that the Commission would be setting up a three member committee to investigate the allegations.

The Committee would be made up of Mr. Kwadwo Safo Kantanka, Deputy Chairman for Operations, Mr. David Adenze Kanga, Deputy Chairman for Finance and Administration and Mr. Ebenezer Addison, a member of the Commission.

Asked what will be the specific mandate of the committee, Mr. Yorke Aidoo said “In the first place an allegation has been made against the Electoral Commission and it is important that the Commission as an independent body goes into the allegation, you know, and then come out with what is actually on the ground to enable the Commission as it were interact with the political parties who are the main stakeholders so that that would begin the dialogue on making sure that the voters register is actually protected.”

He maintained that the issue is an internal matter and if it becomes “necessary and imperative”, the Commission would invite the political parties for their input, but in the meantime, that is not part of the equation.

Insisting that the integrity of the EC and the voters register have in no way been dented, he said the Commission would do whatever it takes to get to the bottom of the matter. He said the EC at last week's Inter-Party Advisory Committee meeting only agreed to investigate the matter and never promised any bi-partisan investigations into the matter.

Asked if the EC on its own would be capable of dealing comprehensively with the matter, he said obviously the EC would need to collaborate with other institutions including the political parties and it was rather very important that they trust the Commission and refrain from undermining its integrity.

But NDC's Deputy General Secretary, Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, on the same programme, told host Kojo Oppong-Nkrumah that the EC's decision is “bizzare, it's confusing,” and explained that the matter could have been resolved a long time ago if the EC had been forthright at the beginning.

He said when the party discovered the discrepancies and wrote to the Commission for explanation, it could have admitted the error and investigate it from that point, “but they insisted that we had never written to them and they had never given us any CD. That is where the whole crisis started and so at the IPAC it was agreed that whatever committee would be formed should be made up of all the political parties, ….and it's bizarre because at the IPAC the consensus was that the committee should be made up of all the political parties, including the EC so on what basis should they go and form a committee and say the issue is an internal matter?

“It cannot be an internal matter. You have created a situation where people are beginning to question the credibility of the biggest opposition party, people are going as far as saying that the figures have been doctored, and then you turn round and say it's an internal matter and that you are going to invite us at your convenience to come and hand over the CD-ROM to you…”

Afriyie Ankrah said the CD-ROM and the hard copy of the 'bloated register' remains the party's principal evidence and would not hand it over to the EC, an interested party in the matter. It would do so to a more neutral and independent committee.

“How can you give your principal evidence to an interested party? It doesn't work that way.”

He described the EC's stance as totally unethical and unacceptable, and promised that the NDC would be meeting shortly over the new twist and make its decision public.

On his part, the NPP General Secretary, Nana Ohene Ntow, said at the IPAC meeting last week, it was expressly agreed that a committee of the parties, the EC and IT experts was to investigate the matter to put everybody's mind at rest over the allegations. He was particularly worried that it had taken the EC too much time to react on such a sensitive and pertinent issue.

He said the party had said several times that it had no problem with anyone raising issues with the EC, however it was concerned about how the issues are handled and while it abhorred the manner the NDC tried to insinuate that the NPP was to benefit from such a register if it existed, it was appalled by the EC's reticence.

“It is something that you could easily pronounce on or at least make an interim statement and then get everybody's mind at rest and then involve the parties to establish the transparency of that process... This is a very, very sensitive matter and the longer it waits, the more confusion and lack of trust and suspicion it creates.”

“I do not agree with Mr. Aidoo that it was not clear. It was clearly understood that in order that there will be confidence in that process, in fact the NDC had initially refused to produce the CD only to the Electoral Commission and the agreement and what I understood is that because it was going to be presented in the presence of other stakeholders and other witnesses, then the NDC would be prepared to bring the CD, so right now I don't know. Fine you have an internal problem but the problem has gone beyond your perimeter as an institution, it has already fallen outside of your purview in terms of who is interested and who wants to know and who is affected.”

He advised the EC to adopt a more practical approach to resolving build trust by involving all the parties and do an independent job instead of sticking to a hardcore stance of its independence of other institutions such as the IPAC and therefore going it al alone. He recommended that the parties mount pressure on the EC to act appropriately.

“Trust and confidence are at the core of this matter. If they do not do things that project trust and confidence, the situation could get further complicated and it won't be in anybody's interest.”

Author: Isaac Yeboah

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