…As President Akufo-Addo shockingly incites demos against EC
When the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) was in opposition and fighting tooth and nail to come to power, one of the many desperate promises that it had made was that it would surely implement the Representation of People’s Amendment Law (ROPAL), if elected into power.
Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia, then running-mate of NPP flagbearer Nana Akufo-Addo, had stormed New York in April, 2015, to declare at a fundraising event that the NPP would ensure the implementation of ROPAL once it was voted into power.
It has been a little over five months into the election of the NPP into office and a different vibe is emerging from the body language of the elephants.
On the sidelines of the United Nations High Level Oceans Conference in the USA, the President had charged Ghanaians in the Diaspora to mount pressure on the Electoral Commission to implement ROPAL.
In other words, the President is urging the public to adopt all means legally possible, including demonstrations and even picketing, to pressurize the Electoral Commission!
In addition to the fact that the shocking incitement has left observers wondering if the President understands that, as leader, he is the chief driver of statecraft and that the Electoral Commission’s function is part of that statecraft, the new position of the NPP suggests a crafty retreat from its stance when it was in opposition.
The incitement against the EC comes after President Akufo-Addo had declared in Togo this May that the NPP would rather engage with the EC over the implementation of the law, and later affirmed in Belgium that the EC, rather than the NPP, has the power to implement the law.
The map-out of the NPP’s shiftiness on ROPAL thus far, is, from a direct promise, while in opposition, to implement, if elected into power, to an acknowledgement in power that only the EC has the mandate to implement, through to an outright incitement of demonstrations and public pressure on the EC to implement.
The Electoral Commission is a major national security institution.
ROPAL amended Section 7 and 8 of PNDCL 284, which states that Ghanaians abroad are not allowed to vote except they should have continuously stayed in the country at least six months to the elections.
The EC has long maintained that it does not have the logistics and money to expand universal adult suffrage to places beyond the shores of Ghana as ROPAL requires.
The law was passed in 2007, with the events leading to its passage by the Kufuor regime characterized by acrimonious public resistance by opposition parties and pressure groups, including Kwesi Pratt, Jr’s Committee for Joint Action.
However, the law has ever since sat dormant in the statutes as the Electoral Commission points out that it does not have the logistics and money to implement it.
Even though the Commission has set 2018 as deadline to clearly define a roadmap for ROPAL implementation, the EC’s 2016-2020 strategic plan states that “there is currently no plan” to implement ROPAL.
It was while the EC was in the longstanding constipation over ROPAL that the NPP, in the buildup to the 2016 elections, promised to implement, if voted into power. As if the party, then in opposition, had a magic wand to make all the difficulties surrounding the practicality of ROPAL vanish, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia, then running mate to Akufo-Addo, had told Ghanaians living in the USA that a yet-to-be elected NPP regime would implement the law with ease.
That promise had been one of many grandiloquent campaign boons that the NPP had used to entice Ghanaians into voting for them in the 2016 elections.
However, in less than six months into the party’s election into office, President Akufo-Addo was heard saying in Togo in May that rather than a head-on implementation of the law, his government would engage in discussions with the EC over ROPAL.
“We passed the law and I can’t understand why 10 years later, it is dormant on the statute books,” the President had said.
Later in Belgium, the President would tell Ghanaians living in that country that only the Electoral Commission has the mandate and duty to implement the law.
That position has now recently shifted into President Akufo-Addo’s new stance that Ghanaians will need to pressurize the EC, possibly with demonstrations, to force the election body to implement the law.
The President is inciting the public against the EC, which is a very sensitive security institution with even its office premises demarcated as a security zone!
The EC has made it clear that because of logistical, staff and funding constraints, it does not have the implementation of ROPAL in mind at the moment.
Observers are questioning why the President will not instruct the Finance Minister to release money to the EC to be specifically allocated to the implementation of ROPAL if he really is bent on delivering on the campaign promise to implement the law.
Meanwhile, the NDC’s National Communications Director, Solomon Nkansah, has claimed that President Akufo-Addo is trying to start the implementation of ROPAL in a bid to rig the 2020 elections.
In an interview on radio, Mr. Nkansah said the NPP was trying to resort to mischief under the cover of ROPAL after it has become clear that it has lost public confidence.
“[NPP] wants to use this [ROPAL] to rig the 2020 elections because Nana Akufo-Addo has failed in his promises,” Mr. Nkansah, told Onua FM.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Fiifi Samuels