A five-member panel of Ghana’s Supreme Court have chastised the country’s electoral body, warning that they (judges) would not look on, as the Commission’s actions plunge the country into chaos.
The panel, led by the Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood, bemoaned the lacklustre attitude of the Electoral Commission (EC) towards a key ruling that it had handed down relative to the electoral roll for the upcoming elections in November.
Two citizens had filed a case against the EC asking them to discard names of people who used a National health Insurance identification to register during the last voter registration exercise.
According to the two, the health insurance cards were not enough proof of citizenship, a claim that the Court agreed with in their last ruling, thereafter tasking the EC to expunge names of people who registered with the said card.
The Commission however stated that they were working on cleaning the register for the polls but did not include removing names of people as directed by the Court. Local media reports that a visibly angered Chief Justice warned the EC with her colleagues nodding in approval.
The panel had met to clarify its ruling on the need to clear names of people who registered with Health Insurance documents, a move seen by many Ghanaians as a key step towards credible and peaceful polls.
Ghana’s Judiciary and Elections
The judiciary, Ghana’s third arm of government is largely seen as the last stop with regards to electoral issues. It has over the years presided over cases of disagreement after polls.
The very recent, perhaps its biggest contribution to the advancement of Ghana’s electoral system was in 2013 when it heard a landmark election petition that was presented to it by the leading opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) which alleged that the 2012 polls were rigged.
The court empaneled 9 judges who sat in a televised process that spanned over eight months probing several witnesses including the electoral commissioner at the time. The process in the end affirmed the victory of incumbent John Dramani Mahama but gave directions for key changes to the electoral system.
Ghana’s electoral commission
Ghana’s electoral system has won global acclaim for organizing elections over the years, starting 1992 when the west African country transited from military rule and adopted the current constitution.
The EC has under its belt, six general elections that has seen the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) winning four times whiles the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has won two.
The upcoming elections, its seventh is seen as a straight contest between the president and the NPP’s Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo Addo.