Failure by the Electoral Commission (EC) to implement the Representation of the Peoples Amendment Act (ROPAA) will be in contempt of court and a violation of the fundamental human rights of Ghanaians in the Diaspora.
Dr Eric Asare Bossman, a Deputy Chairperson of the EC, said the right Ghanaians in the Diaspora to vote has been guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution and made effective by ROPAA,
Dr Bossman was speaking in an interview with the GNA in Cape Coast, on the side-lines of the Central Regional consultative engagement on the implementation of ROPAA on Tuesday.
The implementation of ROPAA has become mandatory following years of agitations and legal battles amidst arguments by the EC that there were no resources to implement it, until the Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court in December 2017 gave the EC a one-year ultimatum for its implementation.
EC after the deadline, has pleaded with the Court to give it more time to enable it to do more consultations because it will require the collective efforts of all shareholders to facilitate its successful implementation.
It has, therefore, tasked all interest groups and individuals to desist from sitting on the fringes as it engaged various stakeholders across the country to solicit their input into the implementation.
Among some of the issues being deliberated are whether the decision to demand a valid Ghanaian passport, a valid resident permit and a proof of dual citizenship from prospective voters abroad must be maintained.
Dr Bossman indicated that Ghanaians in the Diaspora played a key role in national development and so all eligible voters regardless of one’s geographical location must be on board.
Ghana bagged $2.2 billion from remittances in 2017 from a total of $38.4 billion that Sub-Saharan Africa recorded, according to the World Bank’s Migration and Development Brief.
Remittance flows play an important role in terms of Ghana’s external accounts. According to the World Bank, remittance inflows amounted to $2.5 billion in 2014: equal to roughly 18.6 percent of total exports that year.
He expressed the commission’s resolve to collaborate with all interest groups and accommodate all dissenting opinions in order not to rush the process because the right to vote and voting is a fundamental human right and all eligible voters must be given the opportunity to exercise their franchise.
Currently, a nine member committee that had drawn a roadmap for the implementation of the ROPAA, 2006 (Act 699), which gives Ghanaians in the diaspora the right to vote from abroad, are touring the country to solicit views from interested groups and stakeholders to ensure that the best practices are adopted in ROPAA’s implementation.