A group of academics calling themselves Concerned University Lecturers, Ghana have asked the Electoral Commission (EC) to tread cautiously over its insistence to compile a new voters’ register six months to the 2020 election.
In an open letter to the EC Chair, Jean Mensa, the 101 lecturers said the unilateral approach to decision making had “poisoned the electoral environment, and has the potential to undermine the credibility of the 2020 elections”.
It said the controversy with the upcoming polls had the propensity to completely erode the public trust and confidence the EC had jealously guarded since the birth of the new political dispensation 25 years ago.
The group, said they were puzzled by the compilation of the register when the existing one had been used to conduct the 2012 and 2016 elections, referendum to create six new regions in 2018, the Ayawaso West Wuogon Constituency, and the District Assembly Elections in 2019
“So far, we have not seen any evidence to suggest that an updated version of the existing register cannot perform same role in the 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary elections, as the outcomes of these elections have been described by your office and other stakeholders as some of the most credible elections in our country’s history”, the letter said.
Amongst some of the concerns of the academics included denting of the country’s international image since the intended exercise flouted the ECOWAS protocol which forbade member nations from making any extensive changes to electoral regimes in the last six months before elections.
They described the health risks of the exercise due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the decision to limit registration eligibility requirements to passports and Ghana Cards as worrying.
“We implore your office to provide evidence of the specific challenges it seeks to address with the register and we are happy to participate in constructive deliberations to assist your office with alternative policy options that will enhance our electoral credibility”, the letter said.
The lecturers also urged the EC to revisit the processes involved in the compilation of the existing Biometric Voters’ Register leading to the 2012 elections in which there was stakeholder involvement and entrenched positions were relaxed and compromises evolved.
“Overall, the high integrity of the process of registration makes the current register, without doubt, one of the fairest, most credible, and fit for purpose. Please be reminded that current President Nana Akufo Addo and the Members of Parliament were elected into office with the existing biometric register.
Finally, we wish to urge you to act as a referee without any sign or acts of partiality. It is necessary for all stakeholders, especially the political parties to go into the election without harbouring suspicion about your neutrality”, it said.
Some of the members of the group are Prof. Stephen Kendie, University of Cape Coast; Prof. Fred Binka, former Vice-Chancellor, University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS), Ho; Prof Joshua Alabi, former Vice-Chancellor, University of Professional Studies (UPSA), Accra.
BY TIMES REPORTER