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26.05.2011 General News

Entrenching The Will Of The People

Ghana and its leadership have recently been widely applauded by a number of international personalities and others for the exemplary leadership in democracy, good governance and respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms.

Only last week, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon, on a visit to the country, rated President John Evans Atta Mills as one of the leaders of exemplary qualities on the African continent and Ghana as a bastion of democracy and beacon of hope on the continent.

For a continent that is often remembered by the international community for all the negative things, including civil wars and other forms of social upheavals and strife, these accolades heaped on us refer to no mean achievements.

We must duly feel proud and gratified to pat ourselves on the back even as it is important to take further measures to consolidate these enviable feats we, as a people, have chalked up.

It is on record that since 1993 when this country returned to constitutional rule and to multiparty democracy, consistent and persistent attempts have been made to ensure that one of the fundamental tenets of democracy, that government must spring from the will of the people and governance should be in accordance with their wishes, is adhered to and indeed entrenched.

Aside from crafting a people-centred constitution which was written not exclusively this time by a tiny privileged class of political elites, but by the mass of the people, including farmers, butchers, market women and security people, the country's independent Electoral Commission (EC) has discharged its responsibilities to the admiration of all.

From opaque ballot box and non-photo or black and white photo ID cards in 1992, the EC, with the support of various governments and the international community, has guided the electoral process to the use of transparent boxes, colour photo ID cards, representation of parties at all polling stations, and other checks and balances.

These have primarily been designed to ensure that the government that emerges from the polls to steer the affairs of the state does so in conformity with the will of the people.

Impressive as these might have been even by global standards, the system is neither perfect nor foolproof.

One of the flaws of the electoral system has been the issue of double or even multiple registration for the purposes of indulging in double or multiple voting and other electoral malpractices.

These and other clandestine acts, if not checked and brought under control, will conspire to undermine the integrity of the polls and in the end subvert the true will of the people as should be expressed in the polls.

It is on account of these and other factors that we are elated at the news that the EC has shortlisted seven companies that have expressed the intent to provide the technology for the biometric registration of voters.

We not only applaud but also wholeheartedly support this move by the EC because among others, it will eliminate double or multiple registration and other electoral vices and therefore deny miscreants the opportunity of subverting the will of the people to perpetrate those nefarious acts.

While calling on the EC to expedite action on the process, we urge all political parties, civil society groups, the media, the generality of the people and the international community to lend this process all the encouragement and support so that biometric voting can take place in the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections.

Without doubt the application of the biometric register for the 2012 elections would not only further enhance the credibility and integrity of the polls but also further anchor the country's already enviable democratic system and stature.

This should be another collective plus for which we all must feel justifiably proud and elated.