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10.11.2005 General News

TUC rejects the Representation of the People's Bill

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Accra, Nov. 10, GNA - The Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) on Thursday rejected the Representation of the People's (Amendment) Bill and called for its suspension for broader consultation.

"The Ghana TUC notes that whereas any effort including an amendment of the People's Representation Law (PNDCL 284) to enable Ghanaians resident abroad to exercise their franchise, as citizens of Ghana could ordinarily be welcomed as a well intentioned exercise, Ghana TUC is of the opinion that amending the law to allow Ghanaians abroad to vote in any election in the immediate future without giving thought to its implication on the nation, should not be encouraged," Mr Joseph Newlove Atopley, TUC Acting Secretary-General stated at a press conference in Accra on Thursday.

Mr Atopley also described as untenable the argument that due to remittances from Ghanaians abroad they should be allowed to vote stressing, "rights cannot be divorced from responsibilities, neither could remittances be equated to direct payment of taxes." The Bill seeks to amend the Representation of the People Law, 1992 (PNDCL 284) to enable all Ghanaians resident abroad of voting age and of sound mind to register and vote in elections.

It also seeks to specifically amend section eight, 8 (1), (2) and (3) of the law, which is captioned "Registration of Ghanaian citizens abroad".

Mr Atopley urged the government to use the overseas electoral budget to improve the conduct of elections in the country as way of building upon the gains so far made in the democratic dispensation. "Ghana TUC believes that any further demand on donor countries to extend financial support to cover elections for Ghanaians living abroad would amount to perpetuating neo-colonialism in our dear country." It said this is because the country already relied heavily on external funding for most of its development programmes. The TUC also noted that lack of consensus on the matter especially by the two major political parties could create an electoral dispute and serve as recipe for chaos and disaster.

The proposed amendment states that a person who is a citizen of Ghana resident outside the Republic is entitled to be registered as a voter if that person satisfies the requirements for registration prescribed by the law other than those relating to residence in polling division."

It empowers the Electoral Commission (EC) to appoint the Head of a Ghana Mission or Embassy abroad or another person or institution designated in writing by the Commission as a registration officer to register a person to be a voter for an election.

The EC may also give such directions, as it considers appropriate, to a person appointed as a registration officer.

A memorandum attached to the bill also states that the purpose of the amendment is to enable all Ghanaian citizens of age 18 and above and of sound mind, living both in and outside of Ghana to register and vote during elections and also to participate in politics.

The memo noted that Article 42 of the Constitution empowers every Ghanaian citizen of voting age and of sound mind to register and vote. It said section 2(1) of the Political Parties Act, 2002 (Act 574) also provides that every citizen of voting age has the right to participate in political activity intended to influence the composition and policies of government, the least of which is the right to vote. 10 Nov 05

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