The Electoral Commission (EC) Representation of the People’s Amendment Act (ROPAA) Consultative and Implementation Committee has rolled-out a comprehensive regional consultation programme with local stakeholders and civil society organizations.
The EC ROPAA Committee will engage political parties representations, traditional authorities, religious leaders, and the media from February 18 at Sekondi, Western Region; February 19 at Cape Coast, Central Region; and February 21 at Koforidua, Eastern Region.
Others are as follows: February 22 at Ho, Volta Region; March 4, at Kumasi, Ashanti Region; and March 5 at Sunyani, Brong Ahafo Region; March 7 at Bolgatanga, Upper East Region; March 8, at Tamale, Northern Region; and March 9 at Wa, Upper West Region.
The EC ROPAA Committee’s working document made available to the Ghana News Agency in Accra at the weekend, indicates that on March 18, the Committee will wrap-up the first phase of the consultation to scrutinize the regional outcomes.
The nine-member EC ROPAA Committee is chaired by Dr Bossman Eric Asare, EC Deputy Chairman, in-charge of Corporate Services with Mr Christian Owusu-Parry, EC Director of Administration as the Secretary.
Other Members of the Committee include Mrs Adwoa Abrefa Asuama, EC Member; Mr John Boadu, General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP); and Dr Benjamin Kumbuor, a leading member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The rest are Reverend Dr Ernest Adu Gyamfi of the National Peace Council; Professor Ransford Gyampo of the University of Ghana, and Dr Kojo Asante of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) Ghana and Mr Kofi Akpaloo, representing the other minority parties.
Mrs Jean Mensa, EC Chairperson has tasked the Committee to do a “desk research” on countries that were implementing ROPAA and how it was being implemented in those countries.
Apart from the regional consultative, the Committee will pay a working visit to countries already practicing external voting namely Mali, South Africa, the United States and the United Kingdom.
Mrs Mensa also tasked the Committee to undertake stakeholder consultations with a view to seeking the opinion of key stakeholders on the best approach to the implementation of ROPAA.
She said the implementation of ROPAA requires that the Commission puts together regulations, in the form of a Constitutional Instrument (CI), to regulate the registration of voters and the conduct of elections in foreign countries.
Mrs Mensa said at the end of the work of the ROPAA Consultative and Implementation Committee, a technical group will be constituted to draft regulations for external voting, then it will eventually be passed into a CI by Parliament by the close of December 2019.
The EC Chairperson said ROPAA, today gives the Ghanaian citizens living outside the country the right to be registered as a voters and to vote anywhere they live.
“It has been 12 years since ROPAA became law, but Ghanaian citizens living outside the country are yet to benefit from the opportunities presented by ROPAA. This is because of the obvious challenges that are likely to be encountered in the implementation of ROPAA,” she said.
Mrs Mensa recalled that in the past, attempts were made by the EC, under the leadership of Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan to find a way of implementing ROPAA that will be acceptable to all stakeholders, by setting up a committee in 2011 to make recommendations for the ROPAA implementation.
“Seven years on, the right to be registered as a voter and to vote in public elections and referenda remains elusive to the Ghanaian living outside Ghana.
Mrs Mensa said a lot has changed since the Committee set up by Dr Afari-Gyan presented its report; stating that, it was necessary that in trying to implement ROPAA now, stakeholders take into account the new developments in Ghana’s electoral process.
She said it was for this reason that this Consultative and Implementation Committee was being formed to continue with the process after it was put on hold from 2011.
It will be recalled that the following advocacy by interest groups, a Bill was introduced in Parliament in 2006, the Representative of the People Amendment Bill (ROPAB) to amend the representation of the People’s Law of 1992 PDNC Law 284.
The PNDC Law 284 did not make provision for Ghanaian citizens other than persons working in Ghana’s diplomatic missions, persons working with international organisations of which Ghana is a member and Ghanaian students on Government scholarship, to be registered in the countries where they reside.
The ROPAA, Act 2006, ACT 699 was therefore passed to extend the right of the Ghanaian to participate in voting in public elections and referenda to Ghanaians living outside Ghana.