The West Africa Centre For Counter-Extremism (WACCE) says the uncompromising nature of the Electoral Commission and the unyielding position of the opposition NDC in their resistance to the compilation of the new register have collectively deepened an already polarised and divisive political atmosphere.
The EC has announced plans to begin the compilation of the new Voters’ register this month despite stiff resistance from the opposition NDC and several civil society organisations.
According to the NDC, the decision to compile a new voters’ register is an attempt by the governing NPP to rig the December polls. But the EC, on the other hand, says the current biometric register is bloated and not credible.
The Election management body has also dismissed calls to include the old voter ID card and Birth certificates as proof of citizenship when the registration exercise begins.
In a statement, WACCE said the EC must summon a new spirit, take quick and adequate steps to re-engage with the opposition NDC, the Inter-Party Resistance Against New Voter Register and all other major stakeholders to reach broader consensus.
Below is the full statement:
The West Africa Centre for Counter-Extremism (WACCE) is learning with deep concern the decision of the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana to go ahead with the compilation of a new voters’ register under an increasingly divisive atmosphere and widespread stakeholder concerns.
WACCE notes that the events and developments leading up to the EC’s decision has generated too divisive and a highly polarised political atmosphere unsupportive of a peaceful mass registration exercise at this time.
1. WACCE notes that the uncompromising posture maintained by the EC, and the NPP coupled with the unyielding position of the NDC in their resistance to the compilation of the new register have collectively deepened an already polarised and divisive political atmosphere and sets the stage for a potentially violent registration exercise and election event in December.
2. Notwithstanding the constitutional mandate of the commission to compile and revise the register as provided for in Article 45 of the 1992 constitution, Article 45 (d) equally mandates the Commission to engage to educate the public sufficiently on the electoral process and its purpose.
Such engagements are expected to ensure that the Commission carries along with all major stakeholders in their decisions in a manner that engenders national support and goodwill. Unfortunately, the Commission has been unsuccessful in its public education and building wider national support over its decision at the present time.
3. The important lessons from the recent Emile Short Commission report imply that the success and peaceful conduct of future elections and voter related exercises in our country will be determined largely by whether or not vigilante groups get to play a role. WACCE reminds that the political parties are yet to fulfil their promises to disband vigilante groups, and warns that election-related activities, including voter registration exercises, constitute the single biggest source of political violence and insecurity in Ghana and that proceeding in the present poisoned political atmosphere will unavoidably activate the incendiary roles of vigilante groups.
4. In view of the above, WACCE recommends that the EC summons a new spirit, takes quick and adequate steps to re-engage with the opposition NDC, the Inter-Party Resistance Against New Voter Register, the coalition of civil society groups and all other major stakeholders to reach broader consensus. This should go along with enhanced public education and awareness regarding the exercise.
5. The conduct of all political parties must be geared towards strengthening and building confidence in state institutions. We urge calm on all sides, and recommend that the NDC reconsiders its decision to reengage IPAC and the EC. We appeal to all parties to work collectively with IPAC and resort to only legal means in addressing grievances.