Undocumented Ghanaians abroad can’t vote under ROPAA

Dr Kumbour

Dr Kumbour

Many Ghanaians in the Diaspora are likely to be disenfranchised with one of the criteria which make it compulsory to disclose one’s resident permit before being registered to vote under the Representation of the People (Amendment) Act (ROPAA).

This is one of the conditions revealed during the Inter-Party Advisory Committee meeting held yesterday with the media, to fine-tune the legislative framework.

Many participants pointed out that most Ghanaians were staying illegally in the Diaspora and therefore, would not want to “blow” their cover.

Reacting to the concerns raised, Dr Benjamin Kumbuor, chairman of the committee said the basic law of the ROPAA resided in one providing proof of resident permit in the country of abode so as not to allow people to circumvent the provision of the law.

He explained that ROPAA was passed in 2006 to extend the right to vote in public elections and referenda to Ghanaian citizens living abroad, adding that, the Act charged the Electoral Commission (EC) with the responsibility to make regulations for the implementations of the Act.

Dr Kumbuor said in complying with the obligation imposed by the Act, the commission set-up a sub-committee to make recommendations on how best the ROPAA could be implemented.

He said the committee held six meetings to discuss issues it considered necessary in the implementation of ROPAA, adding that it also did a critical study of the composite report that had been compiled by the commission from the external consultations.

Dr Kumbuor said the report among other things touched on citizenship registration and voting centres, the appointment of registration and polling officials and the exhibition of the voters register.

He said there was no way the bar could be lowered to allow Ghanaians living abroad without requisite papers to register, since that would defeat the essence of the law adding that the criteria stipulated a valid Ghanaian passport, a valid residential permit and proof of dual citizenship.

Dr Kumbuor said to even authenticate resident permit of a citizen, there was the need for the commissions to contact the appropriate authorities where registration would take place to provide the commission with the list of Ghanaians who have been granted resident permit.

He said the commission should also be mandated to appoint registration and election officials in accordance with Section 1(2) of ROPAA Act, 2006.

BY: LAWRENCE MARKWEI

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