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16.11.2011 General News

Give Us The Vote - Inmates Of Mental Hospitals

By Emmanuel Adu-Gyamerah - Daily Graphic
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Having given inmates of the prisons in the country the nod to vote in the 2012 general elections, the inmates of mental hospitals in the country have also appealed to the Electoral Commission to allow them to vote in future elections.

The Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, who disclosed this in Accra Monday, however, lightened up the rather formal atmosphere of the packed hall at the Accra International Conference Centre when his audience burst into prolonged laughter.

The occasion was a day’s international conference organised by the West African Parliamentary Press Corps under the theme: “The Role of the Media in Ensuring Peace and Good Governance in West Africa”.

It was attended by members of WAPPC from Ghana, Nigeria, Benin and Togo and a cross-section of the people.

But the EC boss explained that members of the mental hospitals association made the appeal to him when they paid a courtesy call on him.

He said the association told him that inmates of the various mental hospitals have a strong case as far as voting was concerned since about 60 per cent of them are sane.

Article 42 under the Representation of the People Law of the 1992 Constitution stipulates thus: “Every citizen of Ghana of 18 years of age or above and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purpose of public elections and referenda”.

Dr Afari-Gyan stated that for the inmates of the mental hospitals to be allowed to vote, however, the Chief Physiatrist had to certify that they were “of sound mind”.

Even that, he said the EC cannot establish polling stations in those hospitals since “we cannot be sure what the other 40 per cent of inmates in these hospitals would do when the polling stations were established there”.

Speaking on the theme of the conference, he said there was the need for a proper education to enable policemen to be up to the task of providing adequate security at their various polling centres during elections.

Speaking on the same platform, on the role of political parties in ensuring free, fair and transparent elections, the General Secretary of the People’s National Convention, Mr Bernard Mornah, said there was the need for them to continue educating their members on electoral matters.

He said the situation whereby political parties go to sleep and only organise political education fora when elections were nearing was not the best.

Mr Mornah appealed to the media to admonish leaders of other political parties to avoid inflammatory statement in order to minimise tensions that had characterised elections of late.

He suggested that people who had been chosen to be in the communications teams of the various political parties should be properly trained for them to know what they were supposed to do.

For his part, a Deputy General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Abdulai Fulamba reiterated the party’s position on the provision of verification facility at all polling centres to ensure easy verification of voters.

He said money that would be spent on such a facility was worth it since to him “the cost of a disputed election would be more than what will be spent in the provision of the voter’s verification system.”

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