Accra, March 16, GNA - The speed with which the Representation of People Amendment Law (ROPAL) was enacted had led to heighten suspicion among the public that the Government had a hidden agenda, Dr Edward Nasigrie Mahama, Leader of the Peoples' National Convention (PNC) said. "Very serious lapses including failure to provide parallel programme to address the registration of the voters to be affected, the conduct of elections worldwide and other logistics to make sure that the future implementation of the Law would be transparent, credible and free of controversy were missing."
Unlike the relatively greater ease and speed with which any law could be enacted, these highly critical issues of logistics were more challenging and needed a reasonable national consensus on how they should be organised, he said. Dr Mahama, who was addressing a press conference on Thursday to throw more light on the Party's position on the ROPAL saga, said "as we all know, we always have disputes in relations to elections at home to which all of us are witnesses. "These very serious lapses, along with the needless haste in enacting this Law have led to heightened suspicious among the public that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the President have a hidden agenda, especially when they once tried in 2004 to force the bill through under the certificate of urgency." He said obviously, those elections to be conducted in various distant lands had the potential of breeding litigation, wasting time and being more costly.
Dr Mahama, however, suggested the constitution of a transparently non-partisan committee to liaise with the Ghanaians in the Diaspora to work out credible programmes to enhance the implementation of the ROPAL. The committee should look at conducting a census of Ghanaians and the verification of the data, back at home, through the various districts and towns from which they came from; identify polling districts and cities, how the elections could be conducted to make them credible and transparent.
Dr Mahama said the committee should be tasked to design the manner in which Ghanaians in the Diaspora could contribute toward the cost of financing these elections. He said the committee should be made up of representative of religious bodies, civil society organisations, political parties, Trades Union Congress and its affiliates, National Union of Ghana Students, women's groups and any other bodies that would make it credible. "We in Ghana need to keep reminding ourselves that most recent conflicts in Africa have either been initiated or fuelled by disputed election results and related processes to orderly change in national leadership.
"These are ample lessons from the experience of sister countries on our Continent. Accordingly, we must strive, at all cost and with all due diligence to avoid whatever would get this nation to the precipice of the cliff of social conflict," he said. On PNC's position on ROPAL demonstrations, Dr Mahama said "we are all using different channels to address the same problems and we do hope that the government will listen to us and those on the street". Mr Bayirga Haruna, MP for Sissala West Constituency in the Upper West Region, urged the ROPAL demonstrators to abide by the laid down procedures to ensure a peaceful demonstration. "At the same time we call on the Government and the Police Administration to also carry out their duties effectively and to ensure violence-free demonstration."