The founder of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Jerry John Rawlings, has laid the stage for the continuous mistrust between the Electoral Commission (EC) and political parties as seen and heard on secret audio recordings at the Inter-party Advisory Committee (IPAC), to fester further with his endorsement of the Eminent Advisory Committee.
Mr Jerry John Rawlings’ position and comments about the 22-man Eminent Advisory Committee chaired by Justice Emile Short formerly of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to be assisted by Gifty Affenyi Dadzie, a former President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), has been described as misguided by his party.
The NDC General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, alias “General Mosquito”, who has had a frosty relationship with the EC Chairperson, Mrs. Jean Mensah, last week announced that the leadership of the party, would be meeting Mr Rawlings to explain their concerns with the committee.
“We’ll engage former president on it, and tell him our perspective and I believe he’ll appreciate our position if he gets a clear understanding of the fundamental problems with the Committee established by the EC,” Mr Asiedu Nketiah said in an interview on Kasapa FM.
Commenting on the formation of the Committee, the General Scribe of the NDC, said it was regrettable that the EC, is drawing respectable religious leaders into its decision-making, adding “so if there is any misunderstanding who should we run to?
For Mr Asiedu-Nketiah, the Election Management Body, is just fighting to gain credibility and confidence ahead of the 2020 general elections, but said “openness and transparency will flow from your works”.
Interestingly, The Herald is informed that, Nana Ato Dadzie, a prominent member of the NDC, might be called by his party to resign from the Eminent Advisory Committee, as a sign of protest with feeling that there are more sympathizers and actual members of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) on the committee.
Many people feel the committee which include, Archbishop Nicholas Duncan Williams, Archbishop Palmer Buckle, Dr. Eric Oduro Osae, Dr. Rose Mensah Kutin, Dr. Yaw Baah and Maulvi Mohammed Bin Sali as members, will usurp the role of the IPAC, which has been very vocal and effective in previous elections long before the appointment of Mrs. Mensah by President Akufo-Addo to replace Mrs. Charlotte Osei as EC boss.
Speaking during the launch of the committee at the Labadi Beach Hotel in Accra on Tuesday, Flt Lt Rawlings, commended the Chairman of the Peace Council and member of the committee, Most Reverend Emmanuel Asante for helping to ease tensions when the Presidential election results delayed in 2016. The intervention, he indicated helped to calm nerves.
Ex-President Rawlings, had described the establishment of an Eminent Advisory Committee by the EC, as a wise decision that will help to remove the suspicions people have about the Commission.
Describing the committee members as people we must take pride in; the former President, said the last commission suffered suspicions, because it was appointed by the government in power and expressed the hope that the formation of the committee, would help to remove doubts from people’s minds about the independence of the Commission.
Commission Chairperson, Mrs. Jean Mensa, in outdooring the committee, said the major rationale for its establishment was to demystify the Commission and prove its independence.
The committee, she stated would serve as a window between the Commission and the public, stating that while the committee, will serve to inform the public on the workings of the Commission, the committee members, will also serve to pass on concerns from various members of the public to the Commission.
Mrs. Jean Mensa said the members of the commission are not in office to do the President’s bidding.
According to her, they were in office to serve the nation, adding that in doing so, they were determined to be fair to all.
Mrs Mensa, made these pronouncements in Accra last Tuesday at the inauguration of the 21-member Eminent Advisory Committee which is to, among other things, enhance interactions between the EC and Ghanaians.
As a commission, she said, “we are determined to ensure a level playing field for stakeholders — the political parties. We are determined to be fair, transparent and accessible to all, not to one political party or a few, but to all”.
“Indeed, since our assumption of office, we have been trying our best to do just that. To this end, we have held regular IPAC meetings, during which we present our activities in an open and transparent manner. We have ensured regular information sharing with all our stakeholders and we have maintained an open-door policy. And, yet, notwithstanding these and other efforts, suspicion about our independence remains high.
“I believe that this suspicion is linked to the mode of appointment of public office holders, such as us. Because it is a sitting President who appointed us, it is perceived that we are here to do his bidding. I am here to assure you all that this commission is not cast in that mould,” Mrs Mensa declared.
She said the EC was putting in place systems and structures to ensure credibility in the country’s elections.
“We recently introduced a code of conduct to guide and regulate all field officers of the EC, both temporary and permanent. The code governs our operations in the field before, during and after elections and includes stringent sanctions on staff who violate its provisions,” she said.
Other members are Most Reverend Emmanuel Asante, Mr Affail Monney, Nana Ato Dadzie, Council of State member; Sam Okudjeto, Ghana Bar Association President, Tony Forson, Mrs. Freda Duplan, Nana Kobina Nketsia V and Rev. Dr. Cryril Fayose.
The rest are; Rev. Dr. Opuni Frimpong, Rev. Ekua Ofori Boateng, the former moderator of the Presby Church, Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Martey, Rev. Dr. Paul Frimpong Manso, Rev. Paul Kwabena Boafo and the National Chief Imam, Sheikh Nuhu Sharabutu.