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11.06.2003 General News

Electoral Commission To Be Restricted To Conduct Of Elections

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A bill that seeks to clarify the function of the Electoral Commission (EC) in respect of the issue of Voter Identity Card went through the second reading on Tuesday awaiting voting on Wednesday. It sought to amend sections 2 (d) and 12 c of the Electoral Commission Act 1993 (Act 451) and to repeal the Identity Cards Decree, 1972 (NRCD 129).

A new bill to reflect the real position on the issuance of a national all-purpose identity card would soon be tabled in Parliament, a memorandum to the bill said.

The on-going debate on who should be responsible for issuing of the National Identity cards took centre-stage in the chamber leaving the Majority and Minority glued to entrenched positions. While the Majority argued that an authority should be established to build a database and issue the cards, the Minority insisted that the Electoral Commission (EC) should have the job.

Mr John Mahama, NDC-Bole Bamboi said massive scare resources would go down the drain as a result of the government's position. He said 400 billion cedis was needed for the national identity cards while the Electoral Commission needed 100 billion cedis for a new voter's register. The member said the EC had a secure tenure that put its reliability and credibility beyond doubt.

Papa Owusu Ankomah, Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, said government had introduced the bill to ensure the integrity of the electoral process. He said the EC should be restricted to the conduct of elections and other matters related to the conduct of elections.

The Minister said the decision on the issuance of a national identity card was a recommendation of the recent National Economic Forum (NEF). "It is an agenda based on a national consensus, it is not a one sided decision. Government believes that no price is too expensive to pay to ensure the integrity of the Electoral Commission.

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