John Mahama and Jean Mensa
Former President, John Dramani Mahama, has launched yet another blistering attack on the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC), saying the EC boss is on a ‘warpath’ with the opposition NDC that he has been leading.
Without any provocation, Mr. Mahama attacked the EC boss, Mrs. Jean Mensa, on Kumasi-based New Mercury FM during his ‘Thank You’ tour in the Ashanti Region early this week, saying the commission was refusing to accept the NDC’s post-2020 electoral reform proposals.
“Since this woman was appointed, it feels like she is on a warpath with the NDC. This EC Chairperson has said the NDC is the biggest threat to the country,” he claimed without mentioning where the EC boss made the purported statement against his party.
He then asked rhetorically “Do you think such a person can ensure neutrality between parties? It is obvious they (EC) have a certain prejudice against NDC. Whenever we suggest anything, they rubbish it.”
The former President then said that the NDC will not relent in its efforts to get the EC to accept the party’s reforms, vowing “We have sent the proposals and whatever we will do in terms of advocacy to ensure that they do the right thing, we will do it.”
The NDC has said it has put forward some proposals which will bring reforms to the electoral system.
Bizarrely, the same party has said it has stopped engaging the EC but want the same commission to accept its proposals.
The party has refused to cooperate with the commission and has decided to boycott the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) where such decisions are mostly taken.
The NDC’s beef is that the EC rigged the 2020 general election in favour of the NPP, a claim which was dismissed by the Supreme Court when Mr. Mahama went there to challenge the results as declared.
Initially, ex-President Mahama claimed he won the election and was denied victory and in the ensuing heat, he and his party’s leaders amassed their supporters to hit the streets to cause mayhem around Christmas last year.
However, by the time the case was being heard, the NDC’s stance that Mr. Mahama was denied victory had shifted to the argument that none of the 12 candidates that participated in the 2020 Presidential Election got the constitutionally mandatory 50 per cent plus one of the total valid votes.
The NDC also pushed that the Supreme Court should determine whether the Electoral Commission (EC) had to organise a run-off election between Mr. Mahama as petitioner and President Akufo-Addo who was declared winner by the EC on December 9, 2020 after the crucial December 7, 2020 general election.
He was subsequently bounced unanimously by the seven-member panel for failing to adduce evidence to back his claims that no candidate crossed the 50 per cent plus 1 vote needed for the EC to declare a winner.
Since the Supreme Court sent him packing after his unsuccessful challenge, Mr. Mahama has not forgiven the EC boss who is credited for leading the organisation of a smooth election unmatched in the Fourth Republican dispensation.
One of his basis for attacks has been that the court refused to allow the EC boss to testify during the hearing when he himself could not establish any prima facie case against the commission per his own documents filed.
After the court’s verdict when the public was waiting for him to finally concede defeat, he rather held a news conference to denounce the court’s action and then used it as a platform to attack the judges and the EC boss.
Describing the commission as ‘pliant’ he sought to present the electoral management body as one which lacked independence.
Among the proposals being pushed by the NDC is a demand for the prior approval of Parliament for the appointment of EC members.
They want a repeal of the requirement for the consent of the Attorney General to be given before the prosecution of electoral offences as well as specially-designated courts for electoral disputes and offences before, during and after registration of voters and elections.
The NDC also wants the EC to be allowed by law to apply to the courts to remove names of deceased and other unqualified persons from the provisional register when informed by the relevant authorities.
In a strange move, the NDC wants GBC to comply with the Supreme Court decision for it to provide equal access to all political parties after it flouted the same court’s decision when the party was in power and enjoyed GBC monopoly for more than a decade.
It also wants IPAC to be backed by legislation through an amendment to the Electoral Commission Act, 1993, Act 451 as well as spelling out by law the security responsibilities of the EC (if any), the police and the military during registration of voters and during and after voting.
The NDC is demanding a legislation to bind the Chairperson of the EC, as the Returning Officer of the Presidential Election, to afford the agents of the participating political parties and candidates full participation in the collation of the presidential election results at the EC’s National Collation Centre.
The NDC is also calling for a split of the EC into two separate bodies namely an Office for the Regulation of Political Parties (ORPP) and an Electoral Commission (EC) by amending the Political Parties Act, 2000, Act 574.
They also want the mandatory requirement for the publication of applicants for recruitment as temporary EC staff for registration of voters and for elections and for allowing the public to object to applicants who have questionable backgrounds or have overt partisan biases must be strictly complied with and the requirement for the list to be posted at the District EC offices.
The NDC wants the EC to comply with the requirement for each political party participating in an election to be provided with a copy of the final voters’ register and for the EC to make sure that recruitment for the various categories of election officials is made as non-partisan as possible.
They want the list of all polling stations to be used for an election with their names, code numbers and locations to be published in the Gazette and as supplements in the state newspapers not later than 30 days to the election, saying “this will require an amendment to the Public Elections Regulations, 2020, C.I. 127.”
The NDC said it wants the EC to print the replacement Statement of the Poll Form and Declaration of Results Form in a colour different from the original ones in order to distinguish them and where a replacement Declaration of Results Form is used, the original Statement of Declaration Form should be attached to it.
They also want the BVD printouts for each polling centre to be given to each political party agent or candidate’s agent and should be posted at the polling station as well as the abolishing of the Regional Collation Centre.
By Ernest Kofi Adu