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03.10.2008 Politics

EC to rely on birth cert -For future registration of voters

By The Statesman

Due to the challenges the Electoral Commission encountered in the recent limited voters' registration exercise nationwide, the Commission has said that it would insist that prospective voters in the next registration provide documentary evidence before they could be registered.

Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, Chairman of the EC, disclosed this yesterday at the Civic Forum Initiative under the theme, "Cleaning the voters" register for Peaceful Elections in December 2008" held in Accra.

The EC boss stated that the Commission would have to rely on birth certificates in the next voters' registration exercise but admitted this would not totally eliminate malpractices associated with it (exercise).

He however, expressed the hope that the requirement of the birth certificate would help reduce or discourage minors and foreign nationals from registering because of the time and cost element of acquiring the certificate.

Under normal circumstances, the Electoral Commission depends on the Birth and Death Registry to get rid of dead persons in the voters' register.

Dr Afari-Gyan described as amazing how some minors, who were not qualified to register, managed to get their names in the register during the recent electoral exercise in the full glare of policemen, EC officials and political party agents.

He said the under-aged persons got registered in certain parts of the country with the help and presence of 'machomen' who intimidated the officials, on behalf of some of the political parties.

'The challenge process did not work because it was risky to challenge,' he stressed.

Again, the EC boss alleged that some District Chief Executives interfered with the work of officials of the Commission.

Dr Afari-Gyan was not happy that the police were yet to prosecute anybody accused of some of the infractions it (Commission) reported to them and said, 'it creates room for impunity that one can do anything and get away with it.'

On the cleaning up of the voters' register, Afari-Gyan said the register would be opened on 5 to 11 of this month (October).

According to him, the exercise is a serious one, and urged civil society organisations, political parties and other organisations to assist the Commission in cleaning up the voters' register.

He commended civil society for helping to champion the cause of the EC.

In another development, the EC has rejected calls by some political parties for a reduction in the filing fees for presidential and parliamentary candidates in this year's general elections. While parliamentary candidates are to pay GH¢500, presidential candidates are to pay GH¢5,000.

The parties claim the figures are too high. However, the EC maintains the figures are OK, and in any case, cannot convene a meeting at the moment as most of the Commissioners are out in the field.