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20.02.2006 Press Review

Editorial: Fire And Water, Not Same

By Palaver

THE essence of democracy, we believe, will be crudely undermined, if the driving force behind it, the conduct of free and fair elections is turned into a mere formality fraught with abuse, thievery and fraud.

Worse still is the case, where a section of the voters, through no fault of theirs, will only have to mark and drop their ballot papers into boxes like non-thinking robots, set to work, through remote control.

For all we know, there are thousands of Ghanaians abroad, most of whom had been born and bred there, and who know nothing about Ghana, apart from the bits of stories told them, years ago, by their Ghanaian parents.

Although some of these "foreign" Ghanaians, now as adults, have had the opportunity to visit "home", occasionally, only a few of them even bother to find out who is doing what here. At best, they only come down to help feed hungry family members, now being starved as a result of the harsh economic conditions.

There are quite a number of others, who "hustle" from dawn to dusk, abroad, virtually married to their jobs, who have completely lost contact and interest with the politics at home.

Many of such compatriots will be surprised to hear that the ruling NPP regime is so "possessed" with the grand idea of carrying ballot boxes abroad to enable them vote for people and issues, about which they know very little or next to nothing, that it cares not about the consequences of the bogus action. For, already, these are men and women, who enjoy their franchise in the places where they live, work and pay their taxes.

A few of them have joined the local parties and risen to high positions in their societies.

In Cote d'Ivoire, for instance, there had been occasions, when some citizens, with Ghanaian roots, had climbed up to key positions in government. In Britain, the case of Mr Paul Boateng, whose father is a Ghanaian, has achieved quite a place in Labour, that makes Ghanaians there very proud. In short, Ghanaians, be they residents in Japan, Thailand or Kirgisia, who are interested in politics, can play their part, provided they satisfy the local requirements - the basic one being the payment of taxes.

So, those who argue that Ghanaians abroad are politically-starved must either be informed about the situation outside or are simple talking through their hat! After all, those who are in love with politics at home do find time and consider it necessary for them t! o visit home, from time to time, to register and return home to vote, when the need arises.

In ancient history, when it takes months, not days, to move from town to town, citizens did undertake long journeys for them to be "counted", during census. Ghanaian Christians here may recall the story about the birth of Christ, when both Joseph and Mary had to leave home and travel to Bethlehem to be counted, in a general census.

Surely, there was reason for that edict.

The assertion here is that nothing stops any Ghanaian, living on his own abroad, to come down and exercise his franchise, provided he can prove his citizenship, since the mere possession of a Ghanaian passport is no proof. For, there are thousands of such passports-holding Ghanaians, roaming all over Europe, the United States and Japan.

All these facts are not unknown to the NPP foreign-vote hunters, so the obvious conclusion one comes to, in finding a reason for the irrational behaviour of the Kufuor Administration, is that of hanging on to power, through votes cast on the blind side of the majority of Ghanaians.

The claim that the proposals in the Constitution are so sacrosanct and thus must be obeyed like the Ten Commandments is misleading.

Indeed, the fact that there are provisions for amendments to be made is an indication that the framers of the Constitution did not want to give the country, a document, decreed by Caesar and handed down to a country, under occupation.

Rather, the document had to be made a bit flexible to enable Ghanaians to exercise their brains, in a rational way, when we find some aspects of the Constitution, unworkable.

It is not right to compound existing problems. Let the Electoral Commission signal and provide a proof of its readiness to expa! nd its operations, before we choke its throat with rocks!

Water and fire are not the same.

We need not play with fire, for us to start a conflagration. It is nonsensical

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