Dr Alexander Segbefia a former Minister of Health has called on the nation to hasten slowly towards the implementation of the Representation of the People Amendment Act (ROPAA) 2006 (Act699).
“ROPAA implementation could pose as recipe for electoral disorder with the potency to endanger Ghana’s electoral architecture, Dr Segbefia stated at the Electoral Commission (EC) organised ROPAA Consultative and Implementation engagement with stakeholders in the Volta Regional capital.
The EC ROPAA Committee has embarked Regional stakeholder engagement with a view to seeking the opinion of key stakeholders on the best approach to the implementation the law.
The Committee would also undertake “desk research” on countries that were implementing ROPAA and how it was being implemented in those countries, pay a working visit to Mali, South Africa, the United States and the United Kingdom, who are already practising external voting.
Dr Segbefia who represented the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) avowed that the eligibility criteria which hinged on a valid Ghanaian Passport, a valid resident permit, and a proof of dual citizenship for those who claim to hold dual nationality, is ‘ambiguous and obnoxious’.
He said it was an open secret that hundreds of non-Ghanaians living outside the territorial boundaries of Ghana had acquired through fraudulent means and held Ghanaian Passports, “so to base the eligibility to participate in elections in Ghana on a valid Ghanaian Passport is like opening the flood gate for foreigners to decide who rules in our country”.
Dr Segbefia raised issues about the eligibility of Ghanaians who have never been to Ghana, but who have Ghanaian parenthood, “which constituency can they vote in?
“We also have issues with those who have never set foot in Ghana, but have Ghanaian parentage, acquired Ghanaian passport by virtue of their eligibility how do we determine which constituency that person should vote in? he asked.
He said Government was currently in a tango with the United States over identity of a number of ‘Ghanaians’ the later intend to deport, which raises issues of who is a Ghanaian.
The Electoral Analysts were drawn from the Regional House Chiefs, Religious and Traditional Leadership, the Ghana Journalists Association, Media Practitioners, Political Parties, Legal Practitioners, People with Disabilities, Security Personnel, and Gender Advocates.
Responding to the issues raised, a Member of the ROPAA Implementation Committee the Reverend Dr Ernest Adu-Gyamfi of the National Peace Council said the Committee was conscious of the fact that there might be people abroad who held themselves out as Ghanaians, but who were in fact not Ghanaians.
“Great care would therefore be taken so that non-Ghanaians will not take part in our elections, to this end the committee recommends that anyone who turns up at a registration centre abroad to register as a voter must show evidence of citizenship,” he said
On the Authenticity of resident permit, Rev Adu-Gyamfi explained that, since the registration officials may not be able to determine the authenticity of resident permit, the committee recommended that the EC contacted the appropriate authorities abroad to provide the Commission with the list of Ghanaians granted resident permits.
The EC ROPAA Committee Members is headed by Dr Bossman Eric Asare, EC Deputy Chairman, in-charge of Corporate Services; Dr Benjamin Kumbuor, a leading member of NDC and Professor Ransford Gyampo of the University of Ghana.
Others are; Mr Kofi Akpaloo, representing parties with no representation in parliament; Dr Kojo Asante of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and Mrs Adwoa Abrefa Asuama, EC Member.
Mr John Boadu, General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) was not available for the Consultation.
The ROPAA, Act 2006, ACT 699 was passed to extend the right of the Ghanaian to participate in voting in public elections and referenda to Ghanaians living outside Ghana.