EC’s approach towards Nov polls criticised

The African Reform Movement (ARM), one of the new political parties,has criticised the Electoral Commission over what it describes as a lackadaisical approach to the November general election.

According to the Movement, its assessment of the EC raises doubts about its readiness  for the election, fearing that the poor organisation of the polls could have credibility problems for the outcome.

At a news conference in Accra yesterday, Dr. Nii Amu Darko, founder of ARM said the delay in rolling out the events on the election timetable due to the postponement of the limited registration exercise, could throw the electoral system out of gear.

He described the late submission of the Bill to Parliament to legitimise the limited registration exercise, which led to the postponement of the limited registration originally scheduled to take place on March 18 and 19, 2016, as a sign of “incompetence”.

Dr. Darko said the delay of the limited registration exercise, which is supposed to kick-start the election cycle, could affect all other events on the timetable, and asked the EC to explain to Ghanaians how it intends to make up for the lost time.

“Are we going to be ready for the November 7 date,” he asked, and urged the EC to also inform the citizenry of the state of the amendment bill to amend the relevant constitutional provision for the election to be held on November 7.

In addition, Dr. Darko said the EC’s handling of the controversy about the alleged bloating of the voters register was unsatisfactory.

He noted that although the EC declined demands from some of the parties for a new voters register, and declared its intention to undertake an audit of the register, it has failed to inform Ghanaians of the nature and procedure for that audit to cleanse the register.

Regarding the budget for the election, the Movement raised concerns over the approved budget of GHc826.8 million, saying it was too high for a size of the country’s electoral roll.

Parliament in December approved GHc826.8 million for the conduct of the elections. The EC had presented a budget of GHC1.1 million and an additional 100 million for administrative purposes but the amount failed to sail through. The budget was slashed by over GHc400 million.

But Dr. Darko suspects the budget is still on the high side, describing it as bloated.

Comparing it to that of Nigeria, he said Nigeria, with a voter population of 74 million  conducted elections for presidential, parliamentary and state governors at a cost of 465million dollars, while Ghana, that has a voter population of about 14million budgeted for 315million dollars before it was cut by 35 per cent by Parliament.

He challenged the EC to declare the details of the cost of the election per voter,adding “we should be aiming at reducing the cost of our elections”.

By Edmund Mingle

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