EC should tell us pitfalls in 2012 elections before reforms – O. B. Amoah

Chairman of Parliament’s Subsidiary Legislation Committee, Osei Bonsu Amoah, yesterday challenged the Electoral Commission and its Chairman, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, to gather the courage and tell the nation the pitfalls it had identified with the conduct of the 2012 general elections, and first come out with its own proposals for electoral reforms instead of first requesting proposals from other stakeholders.
Mr Amoah noted it would do the nation a great deal of good if the talks on the need for electoral reforms was focused on asking the Electoral Commission to come out with its own proposals, instead of asking the nation’s political parties and civil society organizations to come out with their proposals for reforms.

Following the judgment delivered by the Supreme Court in respect of the 2012 presidential election petition, the Kwadwo Afari-Gyan-chaired Electoral Commission has asked the general public, political parties and civil society organizations, to bring proposals for electoral reforms.

While the EC insists it conducted the 2012 general election in a satisfactory manner, in view of the 5:4 majority decision by the Supreme Court upholding the declaration of President Mahama as the winner, others think the invitation from the EC for proposals for electoral reforms constitutes a tacit acknowledgement by Dr Afari-Gyan and his officials that the election was flawed.

Indeed, Justice Jones Dotse, one of the justices who adjudicated the election petition, gave a damning verdict on the supposed acclaimed competence of the EC boss.

"So far as I am concerned, Dr. Afari-Gyan has cut a very poor figure of himself, and the much acclaimed competent election administrator both nationally and internationally has evaporated into thin air once his portfolio has come under the close scrutiny of the Courts," Justice Jones Dotse stated in his judgment.

While all the political parties have hailed the calls for electoral reforms, Mr Amoah expects the EC itself to propose the reforms and own it eventually, so that the nation can expect a greater level of commitment to the implementation of such reforms.

The Member of Parliament for Akuapem South regretted the practice in the past where the EC had always been quick to claim that “this or that reform” was a proposal from other groups, and not its own proposals, as a defence for non-compliance in the face of some challenges with the implementation of the accepted reforms.

Speaking in an interview with a cross-section of the media, the MP challenged the EC to gather the courage and tell the nation what they had identified as the shortfalls in the conduct of the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections and propose the way forward.

“For them to once again ask the political parties and other civil society groups to first come out with proposals, as it had always been in the past, to me, won’t be helpful in our present situation. We no longer want the situation where in the face of challenges with a particular kind of reform, officials of the EC will come out and tell us this or that was a suggestion from this or that party,” he stated.

According to Mr Amoah, it would be in the best interest of the nation if the EC was made to make proposals for the political parties and civil society organizations to discuss, and add their inputs other than doing it the other way round, as it had been in past reforms.

“The EC must lead and own the reforms and all of us must this time around demand complete implementation and compliance with respect of the reforms that would be accepted by all the stakeholders,” he added.

Touching on the proposal by Justice Atuguba, president of the nine-member panel of justices who heard the election petition, for early release of the voters’ register to the political parties, Mr Amoah said even though an agreement on the early release had been reached on the issue between the EC and the parties, Dr Afari-Gyan failed to comply with that agreement.

“Also the issue of training presiding officers had been agreed upon among all stakeholders, but for reasons best known to Dr Afari-Gyan and his officials, the training was not done as expected,” he added.

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