Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA) has called on the Council of State to call for application for the Electoral Commission chairmanship position.
According to the group, if there are issues about the current culture of the EC, then there is merit in broadening the search for Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan’s replacement.
Afari-Gyan will retire this June, having attained the constitutional mandatory retirement age of 60.
“We will respectfully appeal to the Council of State to cast their net wider. Even to the point of opening it up for people to apply. We may learn from Nigeria the work that a former Vice Chancellor has done to inject massive doses of credibility to the electoral system in Nigeria,” LMVCA said during a press conference.
“Ghana has several competent Vice Chancellors and other academicians of impeccable integrity who must be looked at seriously. Let us broaden the search and let us put together a process of consultation that will involve all stakeholders,” he explained.
The Convener for the Group, David Asante, also urged president John Mahama to stay off the “actual job of selecting the person to be appointed the new EC boss to save his small reputation left.”
The Mahama-led government, he said, has sought to hoodwink Ghanaians by pushing an agenda through the media of limiting the pool of people to be appointed to four.
“There are a lot more competent people than the four. We are even aware of the internal fight between two of the Deputy Commissioners pushing for the job. This makes us very uneasy about the prospect of choosing one above the other,” he said.
Below is the full statement:
We appreciate your usual positive response to our invitation to this day’s press conference. As you know, the Let My Vote Count Alliance, is a rainbow collation of nonpartisan Ghanaians dedicated to ensuring that the processes for a free, fair, peaceful and credible elections are in place in order to secure Ghana’s democracy.
We are happy to announce that we led the current debate on the appointment of the next Chairman of the Electoral Commission and we are grateful to you the media for making it such a major national issue. We are also happy that our call for broader consultation in the appointment of the next EC boss has been widely accepted. Again, we are happy to note that the nation has come around to accept that Article 70 (2) of the Constitution gives the responsibility of selecting the commissioners of the EC, including the Chair, to the Council of State for the President to do no more than a perfunctory duty to endorse the selection by making the appointment.
With the above achieved, the issue now is two-fold, what will be the framework of the consultation process that the Council of State will put in place and what is the criterion for those to be considered? Equally important is that all this must be done in an atmosphere of transparency. We wish to stress that consultation does not take away the constitutional powers of the Council of State to select and the President to appoint. We are pleased to announce that we have been reliably informed by the Secretariat of the Council of State that the body has already started the process of putting together the framework for consultation. They should be encouraged and supported to continue down this path.
We thank them for listening to the voice of the people. It must be stressed that idea of undertaking broader and transparent stakeholder consultation on the appointment of the EC head is not unconstitutional but rather responds to the democratic spirit of the Constitution and the contemporary democratic mood of the country. It is all about bringing back public confidence in our electoral process and adding more flesh to the workings of the basic law of the land. This will be the very first time since 1993 that we have to appoint a replacement of the EC boss; the current Chairman was appointed the Deputy Chairman of the Interim National Electoral Commission (INEC) under PNDC in 1992.
He has been the substantive Chairman since the Commission was formed in 1993. If for nothing at all, President Goodluck Jonathan and his PDP will be remembered for the major contribution they made to securing Nigeria’s democracy by appointing a man of great courage and integrity, Prof Jega, to head the country’s electoral management body (EMB), the INEC. President John Mahama must be guided by this life fact.
We wish to also show our appreciation to the various bodies and groups, including students and Ghanaian groups in Germany and the UK which have in the last few days joined the LMVCA in the struggle to let our votes count.
The LMVCA in our previous press statement made an emphatic demand of the President to stay off the actual job of selecting the person to be appointed the new EC Boss. We wish to disclose that the Government seeks to hoodwink all of us by pushing an agenda through the media of limiting the pool of people to be appointed to four. We will urge the media to stay away from this trap and broaden the search for suitable citizens. There are a lot more competent people than the four. We are even aware of the internal fight between two of the Deputy Commissioners pushinh for the job. This makes us very uneasy about the prospect of choosing one above the other. If there are issues about the current culture of the EC then there is merit in broadening the search for Afari-Gyan’s replacement.
We will respectfully appeal to the Council or State to cast their net wider. Even to the point of opening it up for people to apply. We may learn from Nigeria the work that a former Vice Chancellor has done to inject massive doses od credibility to the electoral system in Nigeria. Ghana has several competent Vice Chancellors and other academicians of impeccable integrity who must be looked at seriously. Let us broaden the search and let us put together a process of consultation that will involve all stakeholders.
And they should not be imvolved to create a false impression of participation only for the Executive to have all along a particular person in mind. We believe for the person to come from the list of four which the Government has used the media to push out there would only go to make the point that the whole consultation exercise now beong considered is a one big sham.
Ladies and gentlemen permit us to run you by a few examples of some countries on the African continent on how they appoint the chairman of their electoral commission to manage and run their election. Ghana is almost alone in limiting the selection and appointment of its EMB head to the Executive (Council of State and the President).
In Cote d’Ivoire, the selection is done by political parties, civil society and the executive, together with the judiciary for the President to appoint. In Sierra Leone, the selection is done by political parties and the legislature and the chair is appointed by the EMB itself. In South Africa, the legislature selects and vets for the President to appoint. In Togo, the selection of its EMB members is done by the President of the Court of Appeal with government and the opposition.[20/04 11:05] King David: The president of the Court of Appeal is then appointed as ex-officio chair of the Commission. In Uganda, parliament selects for both parliament and the president to appoint. In Rwanda, political parties and civil society select for the legislature to appoint. In Nigeria the President in consultation with the Council of State and the Senate select to be vetted by the Senate for the President to appoint.
The Kenyan example is also interesting. The position is advertised and candidates short-listed and interviewed before the President nominates for the legislature to vet and approve.
It is prudent, however, to ask the question how come Ghana’s Constituftion stands out as the least transparent when it comes to how the chairman and members of its electoral management body are appointed?
We risk shredding our democratic gains if we do not insist on an open and transparent process here.
LMVCA is calling on all Ghanaians to join hands in this patriotic cause. It is about Ghana; it is about the future of the youth of this country. We refuse to sit aloof and watch the Executive manipulate the process, shroud it in secrecy and appoint a Chairman who will do the bidding of the ruling party. Let the Council of State show courage in their consultative process and respond fully to the spirit of these democratic times. We recommend that before proceeding to submit their selection to the President, the Council should consult with political parties through the IPAC platform. The inputs of political parties are very essential since they will ultimately be affected by the choice.
It is important also that the elected representatives (parliament) of the people of Ghana are consulted. So must civil society. We further recommend engagement with the National Peace Council and the National House of Chiefs. The trade unions, NUGS and the GBA can all play a meaningful role. But more importantly, as it is common in most African countries, the political parties, and civil society must play an active role in the consultation.
The sanctity, beauty, transparency and the acceptability of the results of 2016 and future elections largely depend on the processes leading to the appointment of an overall EC Boss.
Let your vote count …. Don’t let them destroy our Democracy.