Supreme Court ruling: NDC disappointed; but urges Ghanaians to go out and register
Former President John Mahama Thursday said the National Democratic Congress Party is “deeply disappointed and disagrees with the Supreme Court’s ruling that excludes the existing voter identification card as an identification requirement for the new Voters registration.
The former President said the decision by the Apex Court had “confounded many legal experts and thrown the country into a state of confusion”.
Addressing the media on Thursday night in reaction to the ruling, Mr Mahama said “despite the well-reasoned reliefs the NDC sought, “the apex court of the land gave the leeway for the Electoral Commission (EC) to go ahead with the exclusion of the existing voter identification card from the list of identification requirements.
“It is worrying that the Court deferred the reasons for its decisions to July 15, by which time the EC would have been two weeks into the registration exercise. ”
A seven-member panel of the Supreme Court unanimously decided that EC could proceed with the exercise, scheduled for June 30 to August 6, in line with the Constitution Instrument 126.
This means that applicants can only use their Ghana Card or Passport as proof of their identity for their eligibility.
Those without the requisite documents can, however, have two registered voters vouching for them.
The NDC, in May, filed a suit praying the Apex Court of the land for an order directed at the EC, to include “all existing voter identification cards duly issued by the Commission as one of the documents serving as proof of identification for registration as a voter for the purposes of public elections”.
The suit was joined by a private citizen, Mark Takyi-Banson, who prayed the Court to stop the EC from compiling the register or allow the use of the birth certificate as a proof of identity.
Mr Mahama said the NDC throughout its history, had stood strongly for an inclusive democracy and built on the principle that no one should be left out in the governance process of the country.
“This principle may be seen through the various programmes and projects upon which our democracy is built: the composition of the Consultative Assembly, which prepared the 1992 Constitution; the consultations for the review of the Constitution in 2010, which stands out as the most comprehensive consultative programme in our history and the history of the subregions, ” he said.
The former President, however, alleged that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) had since its assumption of power in 2017, consistently put in place measures, which sought to systematically disenfranchise eligible citizens.
Such measures, he said, included restricting the identification mechanism for voter registration to documents, which were not accessible to millions of eligible voters.
“We have been very clear in our minds that the decision to compile a new voters register was in pursuit of this long-held agenda, hence our efforts to stop the wholesale attempt to exclude vast sections of our population from the process to determine who leads them”.
“A caring, compassionate and responsible government would not push the country to this brink at a time of a major pandemic like COVID-19 that is causing so much anguish among the citizenry,” he stated.
He said the exclusion of the old Voters ID card, which had been used to conduct several elections under the leadership of the EC and from which the current President derived his mandate, was aimed at deliberately disenfranchising some Ghanaians who had falsely been branded foreigners without any basis.
He said the restriction of primary identification to passports, Ghana Cards and the resort to guaranteeing for others was “a ruse to create frustration in the hope that it would discourage millions from registering and in the process give advantage to the incumbent.
“The Ghana Card, which has been made one of two identification documents has not been rolled out in full. As we speak, these cards are still being issued with no mechanism for verification.
“The National Identification Authority itself has admitted to duplication of thousands of these cards”.
According to him, the NDC’s decision to go to the Supreme Court was informed by the “Party’s time-honoured belief and commitment to an inclusive democracy as opposed to the NPP’s exclusiveness”.
Mr Mahama, however urged all Ghanaians of voting age to channel the disappointment at the effort to exclude them from the electoral process into an opportunity to have their voices heard and turn up to register in their teeming numbers during the exercise.
While preparing for the registration, it was imperative, he urged, to keep safe by adhering strictly to all COVID-19 preventive protocols, such as social distancing, the wearing of face masks among others because of the increasing trend in the number of infections and deaths recorded.
Mr Mahama said to those who would have the opportunity to register to assist their compatriots without the requisite documents by guaranteeing for them, ‘even if it took a bit more of their time’.
“With or without a new voters register, the NDC shall win this election by the grace of God,” he declared.