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21.10.2005 Politics

Committee on Constitution holds last forum on bills

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Accra, Oct. 21, GNA - The Committee on Legal, Constitution and Parliamentary Affairs on Friday held the last of its public fora on the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill and the Whistleblower Bill aimed at hearing and collating views of the public on the two bills. The one-day forum for the Greater Accra Region took place at the Opening the forum, Mr Kwame Osei-Prempeh, Chairman of the Committee said the purpose for the fora was to know the public's view on the proposed amendment to the PNDCL 284, which allows only a special category of Ghanaians abroad to register and vote.

He said the amendment replaces section of PNDCL 284, which would enable all Ghanaians abroad to register and vote in an election if the person satisfies the requirement for registration prescribed by law. Most contributors were of the view that the bill should be amended so as not to deny all Ghanaians living everywhere the right to vote in an election.

Mr. Michael Baffoe, who resides in Canada said Ghanaians living in Canada have formed an association called The Diaspora Vote Committee to fight for their rights to vote and that the amendment of the law was in the right direction.

"It is our constitutional right and not a privilege to vote an election in Ghana and we are eagerly awaiting for passing of the law." He said the excuse that it would be very expensive to carry out such an exercise is not valid since already about 50 per cent of the cost involved in holding an election in country is supported by donor partners.

Madam Yaa Mary, a maize trader at Alaajo, a suburb of Accra, said it is about time "our brothers and sisters living outside are allow to vote," adding that, "after all we gladly receive gifts and donations from them anytime they assist us, so why should we leave them out." On the issue of identifying who is a Ghanaian abroad, Mr Osei-Prempeh agreed that there could be problems with that, however, the issuance of Ghanaian identity cards, which would soon be introduced could curb some of the problems anticipated.

Another contributor wanted to know why section 8 of the PNDCL 284 was still enforce whilst Article 45 of the constitution supersedes it. Mr Osei-Prempeh explained that someone would have to initiate the amendment process for the section to be expunged. Mr Kojo Armah, a member of the committee explained to the public the purpose of the Whistleblower Bill, which he said was to provide for the manner in which individuals may in the public interest disclose information that relates to unlawful, corrupt or other illegal conduct or practices in the country.

The Bill also would ensure that persons who make the disclosures are not subjected to victimisation. Oct. 21 05