Members of the National Democratic Congress in the Ashanti Region have vowed to challenge the Electoral Commission’s decision to conduct the Limited Voter Registration exercise at its district offices.

The party says it will resist any attempt by the EC to take decisions that will violate the country’s electoral laws.

Addressing the media in Kumasi, Kwame Zu, the Ashanti Regional Secretary of the NDC, said: “although the decision of the court to grant that order is surprising and disappointing, we are not unfazed by the sustained and instigated efforts of sensitive State Institutions to intimidate and thwart our genuine efforts at contributing towards the improvement of our electoral processes.

According to the party, the nine constituencies within the Kumasi metropolis have their offices at the regional office of the Electoral Commission and the decision to carry out the exercise there will mean people are being registered outside their respective constituencies.

“With the current arrangement by the Electoral Commission, eligible registrants from Bantama, Subin, Manhyia North, Manhyia South, Oforikrom, Suame, Tafo, Asokwa and Kwadaso constituencies would all register within Nhyiaeso constituency,” he noted.

An intended demonstration by the party to embark on a demonstration was cancelled after the Ashanti Region Police secured an injunction to halt the process.

Find below the full statement

Ashanti Regional NDC Press Conference on the Concerns Over the Impending Limited Voter Registration Exercise by the Electoral Commission.
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Ladies and gentlemen of the media, we thank you for honouring our invitation. As announced earlier, we would have undertaken a peaceful procession to petition the Electoral Commission at their Regional Office today, but for the Regional Police Command’s Ex-Parte order served on us. 

The best and weird explanation the Regional Police Command could offer as the basis for this eccentric act is that their men would be preparing and rehearsing on Monday 3rd June 2019 towards offering protection for our Moslem brothers and sisters who will be celebrating Ramadan on Wednesday 5th June 2019. 

As untenable as this excuse sounds, their application for an injunction was granted by the high court and same was served upon us at about 5 pm Friday 31st May 2019, making it impossible for us to challenge the order since the courts had closed at that time.

Although the decision of the court to grant that order is surprising and disappointing, we are not unfazed by the sustained and instigated efforts of sensitive State Institutions to intimidate and thwart our genuine efforts at contributing towards the improvement of our electoral processes. For this reason, we have invited you to make our concerns known publicly with the hope that the Electoral Commission would heed our useful suggestions that would go a long way to deepen our democracy.

Contrary to the proven and successful method of electoral-area-based registration conducted in 2014 and 2016 limited voter registration exercises which produced numbers consistent with population data from the Ghana Statistical Service, the Electoral Commission of Ghana maintains that it would only conduct its limited voter registration exercise at its District Offices. 

This District-Office-based registration recently experimented in 47 Districts ahead of the recently held referenda for the creation of new Regions. With a targeted figure of 100,000 registrants, the Electoral Commission could only register a paltry number of new voters of about 47,000, an equivalent of 47%, which by any standard is an absolute FAILURE. 

This obvious red flag has not deterred the Electoral Commission at all. Regrettably, it has scheduled to extend and repeat this FAILURE across the country, including here in the Ashanti Region.

Ladies and gentlemen of the fourth estate, Kumasi township hosts eleven (11) constituencies. These constituencies have been structured into five (5) districts. With the exception of the Asokore Mampong Municipality (Asawase Constituency) which has a separate Municipal Office of the Electoral Commission hosted on the extreme boundary of the Oforikrom Constituency, all other ten (10) constituencies have their District offices in the Regional Office premises of the Electoral Commission in the Nhyiaeso Constituency.

With the current arrangement by the Electoral Commission, eligible registrants from Bantama, Subin, Manhyia North, Manhyia South, Oforikrom, Suame, Tafo, Asokwa and Kwadaso constituencies would all register within Nhyiaeso constituency. 

How do we reconcile this arrangement with Regulation 2, Sub-regulation 2 (a) of the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2016 (CI91) that demands that “In designating a place as a registration centre, the commission shall take into consideration (a) the suitability of the place for use as a polling station on election day”. 

By extension of this regulation, the electoral commission MUST have polling stations created for Bantama, Subin, Manhyia North, Manhyia South, Oforikrom, Suame, Tafo, Asokwa and Kwadaso Constituencies in its Nhyiaeso based Regional Office premises. Clearly, the registration centres for these nine (9) constituencies have fallen outside the geographical boundaries of the Constituencies. We find this unfortunate and regrettable development as a breach of Regulation 2, Sub-regulation 2 (a) of CI91.

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, in addition to the 33 district office online registration centers of the Electoral Commission in the Ashanti Region, the EC has created an additional 183 offline centers in 132 electoral areas across 20 Constituencies, these areas they consider to be DIFFICULT to access. 

This new effort is to satisfy in part, Regulation 2, Sub-regulation 2 (b) of CI 91 that enjoins the EC to ensure that registration centers are accessible to prospective applicants. In determining which areas are DIFFICULT to access, the Electoral Commission did not consult the political parties. 

We are aware consultations are not mandatory per Regulation 2, Sub-regulation 1 (a) and (b) of CI91. However, we believe the decision of which electoral area to consider as DIFFICULT should not be exclusively determined by the EC. After a perusal of the list of these additional registration centers, we have discovered the following;

1. In some constituencies, there are even more DIFFICULT electoral areas (communities) that have not been captured by the EC. For example, in the Atwima Mponua Constituency, only two communities have been enlisted as DIFFICULT areas, and these are Amaada and Afepaye. However, we know that Obuasekrom, Bayerbon Number One, Tawiakrom, Jerusalem, Wurubegu and Kyekyewere electoral areas are more DIFFICULT areas to access than Amaada. It, therefore, calls into question the rationale for the choice of Amaada and Afepaye above the others.

2. There are some Constituencies with DIFFICULT electoral areas that have not been considered at all. One of those is the Offinso North Constituency. The constituency has some extremely DIFFICULT areas like Sarfokrom, Tanokwaem, Nsanuafie, Papasisi, Mankramso, Ahenbronum, Darso, Esoro-Done, Sranso, Kobreso among others.

Ladies and gentlemen of the media, New Edubease Constituency with equally DIFFICULT areas like Adansi Kenya, Hwidiem, Agave, Ayaa Mankata, Dove, Akyeasewa, Kyeremibabi have not been considered too. Surprisingly, Ejisu and Juaben that could be considered as peri urban constituencies have electoral areas considered as DIFFICULT.

3. Also the number of days allocated to these so called DIFFICULT electoral areas for which offline BVR equipment would be deployed for prospective applicants to register is not based on any statistical consideration. It has been done capriciously with the tendencies for abuse and bias.

These observations in respect of deployment of these offline BVR equipment are widespread across the Region.

To cure these challenges and create an even electoral turf, we request the input of all political parties in determining which areas are DIFFICULT across the region.

Ladies and gentlemen, we also join the many voices across the country to ask the following questions:

1. We understand the Ghana Statistical Services projects eligible registrants to be about 1,700,000. Yet the EC has targeted and planned towards registering only 500,000 people. Who would register the remaining 1,200,000 eligible Ghanaians?

2. Would it not be much better to decentralize the registration centers to the electoral areas to reduce the cost of travel for first time voters who are predominantly young and are largely dependent on guardians and parents?

3. The Electoral Commission is hiding behind cost, which is not within its purview as the basis for denying bonafide Ghanaians a fair and balanced opportunity to exercise their democratic right to register. What cost can be more or worse than a popular discontent arising out of 1.2 million citizens pursuing their duty in defence of Ghana’s democracy under article 3 of the 1992 constitution? What would it hurt to be fair, transparent and unbiased in the eyes of the Constitution of mother Ghana?

We thank you all for your presence and attention.

Until the right things are done, BAA MU YAADA!!!

Monday 3rd June 2019

Source: citinewsroom.com