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15.04.2005 Press Review

EDITORIAL: The Bloated Voter Register Allegation

By Daily Guide
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The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has complained that the Electoral Commission (EC) has bloated the voters' register in next week's bye-election in Asawase, in Kumasi, by 10 per cent, and that action is a recipe for rigging the election.

But, the Electoral Commission has described the complaint as “unfounded”, and added that, there is no iota of truth in the complaint.

It explained that there is an agreement among all the political parties that 10 per cent extra ballot papers are printed to give room for spoilage, and that it is not new, and it has been in existence for a long time.

The commission's explanation is clear enough to dismiss any doubts in the minds of the people that it is manipulating the register to favour a particular political party to have advantage over others in the election.

Although such accusations, and in some cases counter-accusations are minor issues, they have the potentials of developing into serious problems.

For this reason, any individual or group of people who intend to make such complaints, need to investigate the issues thoroughly, before they make them.

In this particular case, the Ashanti Regional Secretary of NDC, Mr. Sly Akakpovie, who made the allegation, did not conduct enough investigations into it before he made it. It is just like crying wolf, where, indeed, there is no wolf.

The problem with such allegations is that they tend to bring the Electoral Commission and its commissioner into disrepute. The Ghanaian Electoral Commission in general, and its Commissioner, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, in particular, are held in high esteem, internationally.

It is necessary that whatever action our people would intend to take, or what they may say, they should first think of the effect, they may have on the image of the country, before they do so. People who may only think of their selfish interests, would not be doing themselves, or the nation any good.

Political opponents can rubbish one another, provided their actions fall within the frame-work of political rivalry. But, it would not be acceptable that such rivalry should be extended to the Electoral Commission, because the commission is an independent body, which serves as a referee, in an election.

However, that does not mean it is untouchable. Whenever it appears to be favouring one political party against others, it would be necessary to bring it to the right path. The role of the EC is crucial in the growth of democracy. For that reason, it should not be dragged into politics.

An unbiased electoral commission is a credit to its country. Members of the commission must, therefore, be above partisan politics.

By that, they would earn themselves and the commission an enviable name, and through their neutrality, they can bring peace to the country.

Whatever neutral positions that the commission and its members may take, some politicians and political parties would accuse them of favouring one political party against others. But, they should take heart, because that is human nature.

All that members of the commission should do, is to take actions that would satisfy them that they are doing their best, as their job descriptions might have assigned them.

Daily Guide advises the political parties to give the commission a free hand to operate and bring sanity into the country's politics, and ensure peace in the country.

The paper also urges the Commission to keep its focus, and continue to be the worthy referee that it is, to lead the country through its elections.

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