Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Djan, Chairman of the Electoral Commission, yesterday said government had so far provided all the money needed by the Commission in preparation for the December elections.
He explained that the Commission had received all the money needed for every stage of the preparation process up to date. The EC actually needs about 41 million Ghana cedis to conduct the whole elections, all of which need not be given at once. In fact, no Commission is given at a go all the money needed to conduct elections. It is given chunks at a time, he said.
The Chairman, however, said the EC's initial request of seven million Ghana cedis to be included in its budget for possible run-off was not granted with the explanation that such contingencies were not built into the budget.
We have, however, been assured that should there be a run-off, government would take care of it, he said.
Dr Afari-Djan said this in response to questions at a colloquium organised by the Coalition for Domestic Elections Observers (CODEO) in Accra on whether the Commission had adequate funds to conduct the elections.
The colloquium, chaired by Justice V.C.R.A.C. Crabbe, Commissioner for Ghana Law Reforms and Co-chair of the CODEO, was organised to find out about the preparation of the EC towards election 2008.
Various questions ranging from the timetable for the elections, preparations of EC in ensuring that all qualified Ghanaians exercise their franchise to whether prisoners of 18 years could be allowed to vote were asked.
According to Dr Afari-Djan, the actual timetable for the elections was not ready because it contained detail information. However, the signposts were ready and that could be given out.
He explained that the Commission would conduct the limited registration to capture all persons who had attained 18 years and older persons who could not register during the last registration exercise.
You know that registration should have started by now but the Commission is yet to receive all the materials required before the update is done.
He said the EC was still operating within the law on its activities prior to the elections and that by September nominations of candidates would take place after which printing of ballot papers would be done.
We can delay all other activities which somehow are allowed but the elections on December 7 cannot be tampered with. We can neither push the date forward or backward. That would be tampering with the law.
He, therefore, advised Christians to go to church on that day, ask God's guidance on the best candidate and come out and vote . On whether prisoners should be allowed to vote, Dr Afari-Djan said EC had no power to determine that, saying it was only the court which could interpret the law. He said the EC would not disallow any qualified person the right to vote.
However, what we do not do is to set up polling stations in prisons where the safety of our staff could not be guaranteed.
He said a seven-member committee, made up of two officials from EC, one official from West African Examinations Council and others from the various political parties had been set up to investigate the alleged bloated register in 13 districts of the Ashanti Region.
The Chairman also announced that between May 26 and 28 workshops would be held simultaneously in Tamale, Accra and Kumasi for persons with disability on how they could participate in the upcoming elections.
Dr Afari-Djan advised politicians to be fair by doing clean campaigns and should not disrupt the campaigns of others.
He also advised political parties to desist from declaring election results to avoid creating chaotic situations. Let the legal authority declare the result.
He, however, said the media could announce provisional results from polling stations, and asked the media to boycott any political party which would call them to declare results.