Former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, is threatening to lead the presidential aspirants of smaller parties to sue the Electoral Commission (EC) over its decision to stop parties without offices in two-thirds of the districts.
The former First Lady, who is the presidential aspirant for the National Democratic Party (NDP) is drawing support from Dr Henry Lartey of the Great Consolidated Popular Party(GCPP) and Mr. Kofi Akpalu of the Independent People’s Party(IPP) .
At a two-day workshop, organised by the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) in Accra, they lamented that the EC directive to all the 26 registered political parties to submit details of their district offices to the Commission before May 31 or be banned from taking part in the general elections on November 7, was unconstitutional and unacceptable in the democratic dispensation of the country.
Their stand was supported by the Chairman of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Professor Emmanuel Delle who advocated for a petition to the EC before embarking on court suits when it becomes necessary.
The worksop was to set an agenda for the collaboration between IDEG and small political parties to jointly deliberate on challenges that hinder effective participation for smaller parties and proffer solutions for promoting inclusiveness in Ghana’s multiparty democracy system.
Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings said the EC could not take that decision without consulting the political parties noting the commission EC continued to marginalise the smaller parties in its activities, which she described as uncalled for.
She said the decision by the EC was a “threat” to the smaller parties since the EC was aware it would be difficult for the smaller parties to have offices in all the districts.
She advised the Chairman of the EC, Mrs Charlotte Osei to open its doors for deliberations on the matter to avoid any confrontation in the lead up to the election.
Mr Kofi Akpalu of the IPP noted that the EC’s decision was inappropriate since those requirements had been fulfilled by political parties before certificates were issued to them by the Commission.
He noted that since most political parties were going through financial challenges to even mobilise resources to participate in the election it would be a burden for them to comply with the EC directives.
Mr Akpalu noted that all political parties have national offices and regional offices as required by the EC and that it would be an additional cost for them to have offices in the districts though they have representatives and members there.
Dr Henry Lartey of the GCPP added that unlike the major political parties who had funds to maintain offices in almost all the districts, smaller parties lack funds to embark on such initiatives since the cost of occupying an office is even expensive.
He said the Commission’s directives were a ploy to ban smaller parties from participating in the elections and that they should have even been consulted before writing to them.
A senior Research Fellow of IDEG, Mr Kwesi Jonah noted that the workshop was to strengthen smaller parties to enable them influence national policies.
He noted that smaller parties should have same opportunities as enjoyed by the major political parties to ensure free and fair elections in the November 7th polls.
By Bernard Benghan