The National Democratic Congress (NDC), has kicked against any plans by the Electoral Commission (EC) to pilot the implementation of the Representation of People Amendment Act (ROPAA) in the 2020 elections.
It is a legislation Parliament passed in 2006, which entitles Ghanaians resident in the diaspora to vote during national elections.
The NDC also disagreed with the proposal that Ghana’s embassies abroad should lead the registration of eligible Ghanaians in the diaspora to vote, which was against Article 45 of the 1992 Constitution.
The party indicated that “if the ROPAA should be implemented, it should be conducted in all the 193 countries recognised by the United Nations, instead of conducting the elections in only 64 nations where Ghana had established embassies”.
The NDC called for stakeholders’ consultation by involving the political parties, civil society organisations and election management body to fully participate in drawing up a workable programme towards operationalisation of ROPAA to ensure holistic approach and consensus.
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the Member of Parliament for North Tongu and Ranking Member on Foreign Affairs in Parliament, stated the party’s position on the matter at a roundtable discussion on the way forward of the implementation of the Representation of People Amendment Act, 2006, (Act 699).
The roundtable discussion was organised by the Centre for Democracy (CSD-Ghana), in collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, to stimulate discussion towards the operationalisation of the ROPAA.
Mr Ablakwa raised concerns regarding funding of elections in the diaspora and explained that about 60 per cent of the country’s election cost was financed by donor agencies and international partners.
Additionally, he chided the suggestion that Ghanaian ambassadors in missions abroad would serve as returning officers for the EC, insisting that “those ambassadors are political appointees with some already showing their political partiality and, thus, could not trust the genuineness of the outcome of elections.
“There are a lot of mistrust within the political elements including the brouhaha surrounding the political vigilantism, if the NDC is in power, will the NPP allow it to implement the ROPAA?”
“In my honest view, I think Ghana is not ready for ROPAA implementation in 2020 elections, but I support the principle, and I’m in solidarity with Ghanaians in the diaspora and everywhere, I want a peaceful election determined by Ghanaians in the country and the limited ones who have been voting from the diaspora, students on scholarship, those working in the United Nations institutions and workers in Ghana’s embassies.
“The election management body of the EC, should exercise caution, not rush in operationalising ROPAA because elections have the potential of plunging the country into anarchy and marring the peace, stability and harmony.
“Stakeholders must dispassionately discuss the matter without looking through the lenses of the NDC and the NPP since the country should not ignore the real challenges in ROPAA implementation and consolidation of all the laws on elections, especially those that bothered on diaspora voting.
“There’s the need for the nation to set its priorities right, adopt scientific approach towards the operationalisation of ROPAA which can be enhanced by looking at the cost evaluation and how much will be required to fully implement the law. –GNA