Institute for Peace and Development (IPD), an advocacy Non-Governmental Organisation, has called for stakeholders to allow cool heads prevail in debate over the decision by the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new voters’ register.
It acknowledged that the EC has the mandate under the law to decide how to execute its functions in the interest of the state, but said, it was just appropriate that Commission consulted its major stakeholders to appreciate their concerns.
This was in a statement issued and signed by Dr Hippolyt Pul, its’ Executive Leader, and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Tamale.
The political parties in the country are divided over the EC’s decision to compile a new voters’ roll ahead of this year’s general election.
While the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) alongside 12 other parties have endorsed the EC’s decision, the largest opposition party National Democratic Congress (NDC) and some other parties have rejected the idea, saying, it would amount to waste of resources.
The parties opposed to the compilation of a new voters register held demonstration in Tamale against the move, and planned to hold similar demonstrations in other parts of the country.
The statement said “In the spirit of cooperation that saw the institution of Interparty Advisory Committee, we urge that the EC gives a listening ear to the concerns of all parties and take into account genuine and well-meaning ones in its decisions and programmes”.
“It must, however do so in ways that do not compromise its constitutional mandate. Having a listening ear is as important as preserving its constitutional independence.
“All political parties and their officers need to appreciate that the willingness of the EC to consult them does not erase the EC’s duty to be independent and to take actions in the national interests even if such actions go against the interests of any political party or parties.”
It added that: “As umpire of our national elections, the EC’s decisions may not and should not always be pleasing to everyone, if they are to be truly objective and fair.
“Therefore, we urge political parties to accept and respect the decisions of the EC, whether or not they are palatable to them, so long as they are within its mandate and are not unreasonably unfair or burdensome to all.”
The statement said “We must accept that the fact that you do not like the rules of the game does not necessarily make such rules unfair or unreasonable.
“The strength of a political party does not lie in its ability to manipulate institutions or voters; it lies in its ability to convince the electorate to vote for it despite the odds.
“Rather than casting doubts and instigating dissatisfaction against the EC’s plans and processes, it is critically essential that Ghanaians give it the benefit of the doubt, as in previous times, and allow the current EC to do its job.”
It asked all political leaders to be circumspect in their utterances – avoid doing anything to create a sense of hopelessness and helplessness that would generate violent reactions.
They must remember that “they are personally and collectively responsible for any acts of violence that their words instigate or prime unsuspecting people to engage in”.
The statement applauded religious and traditional leaders for playing important roles in the past to guide the electoral processes to achieve peaceful outcomes and said “rather than wait for issues to boil up, they must engage now”.