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We will clean register by legal and inclusive means – EC

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VoterregisterThe Electoral Commission (EC) has said that the Commission by itself, has no power under any law currently in force to unilaterally delete the names of persons from the register.

“For the avoidance of doubt, we wish to state that under the existing and applicable law, where a person’s registration is challenged during a registration process, that challenge must be referred to a District Registration Review Committee (DRRC) for determination,” it said.

It said the EC was only permitted to act on the decision of the DRRC following the determination of the challenge to delete or maintain the name of the challenged person on the register.

A statement signed by Madam Georgina Opoku Amankwaa, a Deputy Chair of the EC, and copied to the Ghana News Agency, on Friday, said similarly, for persons who were already on the Provisional Register, the law required that an objection be made during the exhibition process either by a registered voter or an official of the Commission.

It said these objections would then be referred to the District Registration Review Officer (DRRO) for determination.

The Commission, the statement said, was required by the law to act on the decision of the DRRO following determination of the objection.

“As an institution that derives its existence from the law, the Electoral Commission cannot be seen to be acting arbitrarily,” it said.

“The Commission is urging all stakeholders in the political process to join us in working to ensure a cleaner register ahead of this year’s election.”

“We are delighted that the Supreme Court agrees with us on this position. In complying with the directives of the Apex Court, the Commission intends to fully follow the applicable law.”

The EC said its legal advisers have carefully studied the recent judgement of the Supreme Court on May 5, 2016, in respect of the case “Abu Ramadan and Evans Nimako vrs The Electoral Commission and The Attorney-General”.

The Supreme Court’s ruling ordered the Electoral Commission to take steps immediately to delete, or as is popularly known, ‘clean” the current register of voters to comply with the provisions of the 1992 Constitution, and the applicable laws of Ghana.

The ruling also stated that any person whose name was deleted from the register of voters by the Electoral Commission pursuant to that order, be given the opportunity to register under the law.

The EC said it was of the view that the directives of the Apex Court were clear, and emphasised the processes already laid down in the law for cleaning the voters’ register which the Supreme Court was of the view, were ‘ample and sufficient’ to remove the names of ineligible and deceased persons from the register.

The statement noted that the Supreme Court essentially held as follows: “That the EC has a duty to compile a credible register, and in so doing, must act within the remits of the Constitution and the applicable law.”

“That the existing law has made ample and sufficient provisions for ineligible names to be deleted during the exhibition of the provisional register but such deletions must be in accordance with the applicable law.”

The EC said for persons who registered with NHIA cards, such registrations were lawful at the time of registration, and the subsequent declaration of unconstitutionality in the earlier Abu Ramadan case, did not automatically render them void, and the Supreme Court itself held that such a position would have the effect of disenfranchising the persons affected and such registrations therefore should only be deleted by means of processes established under the law.

According to the EC, the process of validation proposed by the petitioners was without statutory authority and in carrying out its functions, the EC could not employ non-statutory remedies.

The Supreme Court unanimously rejected the following reliefs requested by the petitioners: “That the current register of voters is unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect; and that the EC be compelled to compile a fresh Register of voters.

“That, the EC be compelled (as an alternative to compiling a new register), to audit the current Register of voters through validation of the registration of each person currently on the register (as defined by the petitioners).”

Of the ruling, the EC said the Judgment of the Supreme Court affirmed the Commission’s consistent position on the status of the current Voters’ Register and the mechanisms for cleaning it to make it acceptable to all stakeholders.

“The EC remains willing and committed to ensuring a clean register prior to the elections in accordance with the law.”

“However, the Commission wishes to remind the public that all stakeholders in the political process have a key duty to support and work with the Commission in ensuring a cleaner and more credible register.”

“As unanimously agreed by all the political stakeholders at an earlier Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting in March this year, the mechanisms outlined by the Commission for cleaning the register are Inclusive, Collaborative, Legal and Transparent.”

“Finally, the Commission looks forward to working with all citizens of Ghana towards ensuring a peaceful, transparent, trusted, independent and world-class electoral process”.

Source: GNA

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