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"Restricting registration centres to district offices will deprive many to be registered" - NDC

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) says the decision by the Electoral Commission (EC) to restrict registration centres to their district offices will deprive many eligible Ghanaians of their right to be registered as voters and lead to voter suppression. 


THE NDC made these remarks while addressing Journalists in Accra on Tuesday.


Addressing the Journalists, National Chairman of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketiah said "Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution provides that every citizen of Ghana, 18 years and above and of sound mind is entitled to be registered as a voter and to vote in public elections and referenda"

 

"Also, whereas Article 45(e) of the 1992 Constitution mandatorily enjoins the EC to undertake programs to expand the registration of voters, the EC’s decision to restrict registration centres to their district offices will reduce access to voter registration. Hence contravenes Article 45(e) of the Constitution"

 

He added that the EC’s decision to restrict registration centres to their district offices violates Regulation 2(2)(b) of C.I 91 (Amended by C.I. 126),  the law that governs centres for voter registration.

 

"Regulation 2(2)(b) of C.I 91 provides; in designating a place as a registration centre, the Commission shall take into consideration the suitability of the place for use as a polling station on election day; and the accessibility of the place to prospective applicants for registration.”

 

He stressed that given the fact that the district offices of the EC are not suitable for use as polling stations on Election Day, the decision by the EC to restrict voter registration to its district offices is not only unreasonable but unlawful. 

 

"Also, given the long distances that many eligible voters will have to travel and the exorbitant fares they will have to pay to transport themselves to district offices of the EC under the excruciating hardships Ghanaians are presently confronted with, the decision is insensitive, unreasonable, unlawful and unconscionable"

 

"Ladies and gentlemen, it’s instructive to note that Regulation 30 of C.I 91 enjoins the EC to revise the voters’ register annually and to do so at the electoral area level"

 

The National Chairman noted that the Jean Mensah-led EC has violated the law in the last two years by not conducting any limited registration in 2021 and 2022. 

 

This, he noted, has created a huge backlog of about 2.8 million eligible persons including unemployed youth who are entitled to be registered. 

 

"This huge backlog is the more reason why the EC’s decision to restrict voter registration to their district offices is unconscionable and preposterous"

 

"In 2019, the EC conducted limited voter registration in 1500 electoral area centres. Why will the EC reduce this number of registration centres to 268 now that they have a huge backlog of about 2.8 million persons to register? It simply doesn’t make sense"

 

"This irresponsible and unconscionable decision of the commission confirms the NDC’s long held view that the Jean Mensah-led EC is determined to rig the 2024 elections through voter suppression. But she will fail because we are ready for them"

 

"Aside it’s potential to suppress registration and voting, the EC’s decision to restrict voter registration to its district offices can promote and facilitate gerrymandering as agents of political parties will find it difficult to challenge persons who may be bused from one constituency to another to register"

 

Mr. Asiedu Nketiah noted that aside the NDC, there are 4 other political parties who are plaintiffs in the instant case at the Supreme Court.

 

"In fact, CODEO, Care Ghana and other stakeholders in our electoral space have all criticized this unreasonable decision of the NDC"

 

"Apart from the ruling and corrupt New Patriotic Party, no other political party or stakeholder has supported this decision by the EC. This clearly shows that the EC is the problem and not the NDC"

 

"And we know the only reason why the NPP is supporting this unreasonable and unlawful decision is because they are the masterminds and sole beneficiaries of same"


"In an unusual twist – when our lawyers filed the injunction application last week Thursday – we were informed by the Registrar of the Supreme Court that the due date for the Application for Interlocutory Injunction to be moved will be given on Monday upon the expressed instructions of the Chief Justice of our dear Republic of Ghana"

 

He added that the decision by the registry of the Supreme Court to defer giving a hearing date for the injunction application on grounds that the Chief Justice is currently out of Accra leaves much to be desired as the CJ should have delegated someone to act in her absence as the practice is.

 

"The administration of justice in our apex court cannot come to a stand-still simply because the Chief Justice is indisposed or unavailable to give hearing dates. What happened to the e-Justice system the John Mahama led NDC administration toiled for? This deliberate delay should not happen in any civilized country. This is completely unacceptable!"

 

"This is yet again another clear evidence of judicial manipulation and we condemn it in no uncertain terms"

 

"We are aware that the EC has also been served with two applications for injunction from Courts of Competent Jurisdiction, specifically the High Court. Yet, the lawless Jean Mensah-led EC has decided to flout these injunction applications by going ahead with the registration exercise in flagrant disregard of the letter and spirit of the rule of law"

 

"We wish to emphasise that the EC’s decision to proceed with the limited voter registration exercise today despite being served with two injunction applications from the courts contradicts an important precedent set by they themselves during the 2023 NDC Presidential and Parliamentary primaries when they publicly announced the suspension of their supervision of our primaries on grounds of a suit and injunction application filed by Dr. Kwabena Duffour. What has changed? Why this inconsistency?"

 

The NDC hinted that currently it have its agents and officers in all 268 district offices of the EC.

 

"We are keenly and actively monitoring the process and will ensure that the manipulations of the EC & the ruling NPP calculated to suppress votes and rig the process are defeated. NDC shall always stand and fight for the masses"

 

"We therefore wish to call on all NDC officials at all levels, members, sympathizers and Ghanaians as a whole to encourage and fund and assist all eligible persons or prospective registrants to defy the EC and participate in the ongoing registration exercise"

 

Story by: Joshua Kwabena Smith

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