Thu, 21 May 2009 General News

West Africa needs regional electoral commission

By The Statesman
Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mike OquayeSecond Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mike Oquaye

Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mike Oquaye, has proposed the establishment of an independent West African Electoral Commission in the sub-region to supervise and monitor elections of the member states.

He was of the opinion that similar Commissions should be replicated for Eastern, Southern and Northern blocs of the continent which he maintained ought to be coordinated by the African Union.

His proposal is premised on the fact that many contlicts and political instability in many of the African nations have come about as a result of incredible and disputable elections results.

According to him, if West Africa could manage an Examinations Council, it should be possibl for it to design an electoral monitoring and supervision programme aimed at enhancing credible elections in the sub-­region. He mentioned Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Kenya and other African nations where elections related problems have led to conflicts and civil strives.

The membership of the Commission, he suggested, should be made up of experienced retired judges and academics, who would be assisted by foreign technical experts.

According to the Second Deputy Speaker, the functions of the Commission should also include the compilation of eligible voters' data on election within the sub-region, conduct elections, declare elections results and create a machinery to support credible electronic voting.

Some of his colleague MPs from the continent seemed to have loved the idea when Prof Oquaye delivered a paper on the need for such commissions in Africa. He said within the next five years the Commissions could be established if African governments desire to do so.

Prof Oquaye, who is also the Member of Parliament for Dome ­Kwabenya, was speaking in an exclusive interview with The Statesman to put across his novel idea which he believes could strengthen democratic governance and economic development in the sub-region and the continent at large.

"I am saying that the whole process of elections must be well organized, look and critically looked at in Ghana. "What happened during the last election was not a joke," he stated.

Continuing, he revealed, "Let's look at the African Union and the ECOWAS in practical ways that will bring democracy and good governance and development."

Back home, the Dome-Kwabenya MP, however, lauded the recent moves of the Electoral Commission regarding its intention to adopt biometric registration in the 2012 general elections, saying "it is step forward of checking double registration and rigging."

Prof Mike Oquaye also suggested that elections should be held in early November, just like the American model, to allow a smooth transition from outgoing government to in­ coming government.