By Rashid Mbugri/Zulai Abubakar, GNA
Tamale, March 17, GNA - Some stakeholders in the Northern Region have advised the Electoral Commission (EC) not to hasten in its decision to implement the Representation of the People’s Amendment Act (ROPAA), 2006 Act 699.
They said the EC was faced with challenges such as concrete data on valid number of registered voters and urged them to focus on cross checking and providing substantive data to help limit risks in the implementation of the ROPAA as well as prevent the waste of resources.
They said challenges such as the ones that occurred in the 2012 general elections in the country could be repeated should the EC hasten in its decision to immediately implement ROPAA.
ROPAA is a law that permits Ghanaians Living Abroad (GLAs) to register and vote in Ghana's general election as per Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution.
The stakeholders included legal practitioners, religious and traditional leaders, media practitioners, political party representatives, persons with disabilities, security personnel, civil society organisations among others.
The stakeholders gave the advice at the weekend in Tamale with a nine (9) member consultative and implementation committee set up by the EC, to engage with key stakeholders in the Northern, Savannah and North East regions on the best way to implement the ROPAA.
They said there was also the need to also tighten the way passports were issued to people especially non-Ghanaians in the country.
Some suggested that if voting should be done in abroad, the Ghanaian citizens abroad should be equally made to vote in all the elections in the country ranging from the presidential, parliamentary, district assembly election and referendum.
Other issues raised by the stakeholders included how EC staff abroad would be selected, the source of revenue to be used for the elections abroad, how the ROPAA would be implemented in all countries worldwide where there are Ghanaians or in some selected countries, among others.
Dr Eric Bossman Asare, the Deputy Chairman of the EC and a member of the Committee, said since the passing of ROPAA into law in 2006, the EC had not been able to implement ROPAA until an Accra High Court in 2017 ordered the EC to begin the process of implementation.
He said the high court's order came as a result of five Ghanaians resident in the United States who won a case in 2017, which resulted in the court ordering the EC to lay before Parliament a Constitutional Instrument (CI) that would set out the modalities for the implementation of ROPAA.
He said this resulted to the establishment of the 9 members committees by the EC to engage with key stakeholders across the country to obtain suggestions toward the implementation of ROPAA.
Benjamin Bewa-Nyog Kunbuor, a member of the Committee, highlighted the requirements for any Ghanaian citizen abroad who wish to take part in Ghana's elections, stating that he or she must have a valid Ghanaian passport, a valid resident permit or as well as having a proof of dual citizenship.
He said for the purpose of setting up registration centers and polling stations, the committee recommends that countries selected must include places where Ghana has diplomatic missions; countries where Ghana's Ambassadors has concurrent accreditation as well as countries that have Ghanaian population of at least 500.