The Accra Human Rights High Court will on March 21, 2019, hear a motion for extension of time by the Electoral Commission (EC), to implement Representation of People’s Amendment Act (ROPAA).
The court ordered the EC on December 18, 2017, to register the more than four million Ghanaians living abroad to enable them to vote at elections, in a case brought to it by five Ghanaian residents in New York, United States of America.
On January 30, 2019, the EC filed a motion for extension of time for the implementation of the court’s order.
The court, then presided by Justice Anthony Yeboah, now a Court of Appeal Judge, directed the EC to within 12 calendar months present a constitutional instrument (CI) to Parliament for consideration, spelling out the modalities to register Ghanaians in the diaspora.
Sampson Lardi Ayenini, counsel for the applicants asked the Accra Human Rights High Court to reject the motion by the EC.
At the proceedings yesterday, Mr Ayenini told the court he has filed an affidavit in opposition to the motion for extension of time.
The EC in the motion signed by its chairperson, Mrs Jean Mensa, said it could not comply with the court’s order because of leadership challenges by its predecessors, Mrs Charlotte Osei, and other EC commissioners.
It said, since its inauguration, an implementation committee, chaired by the Deputy Chairperson, Dr Bossman Asare Eric, was in consultation with the public, stakeholders, and other countries to take the appropriate steps for its implementation in Ghana.
The EC argued that it had plans to implement the law and should not be compelled to do so.
However, Mr Ayenini, counsel for Kofi A. Boateng, Nellie Kemovor, Obed Danquah, Christiana Sillim and Agyenim Boateng, the respondents, said the excuse offered by the EC for another one year extension was not legitimate.
The lawyer contended that the application was alien to the rules of court, and that granting it would encourage losing parties in suit to elect their own time and manner of complying with the orders of the court, thus frustrate the administration of justice.
He argued that the filing date for the extension of time was a show of contempt, as the court’s order gave the applicant and its commissioners until November 30, 2018, to announce its difficulties.
In the first case, the applicants described the conduct of the EC as discriminatory, as it violated their constitutional right to vote at elections.
The applicants, who are all members of the Progressive Alliance Movement, a New York State incorporated non-profit organisation, asked for a declaration to be registered based on the provisions that they have fundamental human rights under the 1992 constitution among others.
The ROPAA law passed in 2006, seeks to empower eligible Ghanaians abroad to vote in national elections, however, successive governments have failed to ensure its implementation.
BY MALIK SULLEMANA