Parliament displeased with EC
Parliament on Tuesday expressed displeasure with the Electoral Commission (EC), for the suspended local level elections which should have taken place on March 3.
Contributions from both the Majority and Minority sides of the House minced no words in condemning the huge loss of over GH¢300 million to the nation, as a result of the botched elections.
The EC has been under fire since the Supreme Court put the intended district level elections on ice.
An aspiring District Assembly member, Eyi Mensah, who was denied an opportunity to file his nomination to contest the election, proceeded to the Supreme Court to challenge the conduct of the election.
He averred that the EC illegally closed nominations before the maturation of Constitutional Instrument (CI) 85, a situation which prevented him from registering to contest in the election.
Per the country’s laws, a CI can only mature after a mandatory 21 days sitting in Parliament.
The EC, however, maintained that it followed due process in its conduct of the election.
The Supreme Court, after hearing the substance of the case, ruled in favour of the plaintiff, and declared the March 3 election as null and void.
The EC chair, Dr Kwadwo Afari Gyan hauled before Parliament to explain the circumstances, under which the elections were botched, told a parliamentary closed door meeting that the EC was looking for GH¢90 million to organize new elections in July.
Following the botched elections, President John Dramani Mahama had directed the current Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives, to take temporary administrative and executive functions of the Assemblies, until the election and inauguration of new assembly and unit committee members.
Mr Kobina Tahiru Hammond, New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Adansi Asokwa, called on the top echelon of the EC to resign.
“The top echelon of EC should have the moral obligation to resign, “Mr Hammond, also a lawyer by profession, said, adding that the attitude of the EC gave the impression that the EC was not taking its responsibilities seriously.
“The reality is that if they knew what their functions were, we’ll not be in this crisis,” Mr Hammond said, and urged the EC to heed the request to collate a new voters’ register.
He argued that if there has been a similar suit against the EC for failing to open the voters register in 2012, that year’s general elections would have also been botched at a huge loss to the nation.
Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Wa West, however, urged colleagues to assess and apportion responsibility appropriately.
Mrs Eugenia Gifty Kusi (NPP-Tarkwa Nsuaem), was not happy that there was no female member of the Special Committee on the 2015 District Assembly Elections Parliamentary Committee that met with the EC.
She described EC’s behaviuor as negligent, adding that the legislators could not be made to suffer longer sitting periods for the behaviour of the EC.
While supporting the motion for the adoption of the motion on the Report of the Special Committee on the 2015 District Assembly Elections, Mr David Tetteh Assumeng (NDC-Shai Osudoku) said there were signs that there would be difficulties with the elections.
He said: “the problem emanated from here”, and called for the strengthening of communication between Parliament and the EC.
Minority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensa-Bonsu, argued that the DCEs and MCEs sworn into office in March, had no constitutional mandate to act for the assembly member position since their term of office had expired
He expressed concern that the 17 days extra that were needed for the maturity of the Constitutional Instrument by the EC on botched polls, would amount to more than four parliamentary weeks if Parliament were to be recalled from the coming recess scheduled for March 27.
Alhaji Collins Dauda, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, said “as we try to avoid excesses and abuses, we need to have the elections as early as possible.
Mr Ebo Barton Odro, First Deputy Speaker, who sat in the chair, directed that the leadership of the House should meet with the Speaker to hold discussions on Article 298 of the 1992 Constitution, which talks about Residual Powers of Parliament.