Afari-Gyan lauds judges in 2012 Election Petition

Dr Afari Gyan

Dr Afari Gyan

Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, a former Electoral Commissioner, has lauded two judges for making recommendations to the Electoral Commission (EC) towards improving the electoral process during the 2012 Presidential Election Petition hearing at the Supreme Court.

He recounted that during the 2012 Presidential Petition Election hearing in 2013 at the Supreme Court; Justices William Atuguba (now retired) and Jones Victor Mawulorm Dotse were the only two of the nine justices who sat on the case, who made specific recommendations towards improving the electoral infrastructure.

Dr Afari-Gyan made the commendation during his presentation at the 70th Annual New Year School and Conference at the University of Ghana.

Illustrating with the recommendations that emanated from the Supreme Court following the 2012 presidential election petition, Dr Afari-Gyan noted that in summary Justice Atuguba made the following six recommendations.

These include: “The voters register must be compiled and made available to the parties as early as possible and a supplementary register may cater for late exigencies.”

Others are the calibre of presiding officers must be greatly raised up, the pink sheet is too elaborate: simplify it to ease the pressures of the presiding officer’s work and improvement upon the carbon copying system.

The rest are streamlining the process of the Biometric Voting Device (BVD) to avoid breakdowns and stress on the electorate of the adjournment of the poll.

Dr Afari-Gyan said in summary, Justice Dotse made three recommendations such as there should be better management of the ‘serial’ numbers on the pink sheets.

Others are Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) should consider legislation to customise pink sheets in ways similar to unique polling station codes and security features should be placed on pink sheets to indicate the particular region, constituency and polling station.

Dr Afari-Gyan said: “These were not exactly orders from the Supreme Court: They were generous recommendations made by the two justices, and we should be thankful to them.”

“But even if they were orders, if you closely examine the recommendations you will realise that, with the possible exception of two of them – the one relating to the supplementary register and the one relating to customising the pink sheets – the rest were matters that could be dealt with in-house by the EC, using the existing laws.”

Dr Afari-Gyan noted that the time for the recommendations of the Justices to take effect was the 2015 district level elections, which was then two years away.

“Yet, it did not take long after the petition for the people to start accusing the EC for not implementing, in their language, the reforms demanded by the Supreme Court,” he stated.

“The point of this illustration is that, even though the EC has power to make subsidiary Legislation by Constitutional Instrument, if every improvement to the electoral process were to constitute a reform requiring an amendment to the existing law or a new law altogether, the work of the EC would be bogged down by the consultation and procedures it has to go through to make such an instrument. Fortunately, not all changes to the electoral process are to be called reforms.”

Speaking on the topic, ‘Improving the Electoral Process for Democratic Consolidation’, Dr Afari-Gyan said: “The electoral process is the process by which our political leaders, who steer the affairs of our country, are chosen. So, ultimately, it is the major process by which our sovereignty as a people is expressed”.

He said electoral process include voter registration, nomination of candidates, campaigning, voting, counting and tabulation of votes, and transmission and declaration of results.

With regards to who owns the electoral process DrAfari-Gyan said: “To put it bluntly, the electoral process, is the property of the people of Ghana.”

“If the electoral process is the property of the people of Ghana who should improve upon it? Obviously, the EC, as the custodian of the electoral process, has a key responsibility in improving it. Towards discharging this responsibility, after every major election the EC undertakes a broad-based review of its performance,” Dr Afari-Gyan noted.

The 70th Annual New Year School and Conference on the theme, ‘Building strong institutions for democratic consolidation in Ghana’, was attended by more than 300 participants.

It was organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education of the College of Education, University of Ghana, in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development

-GNA

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