Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) Charlotte Osei has come under heavy attack following her appointment of a number of known members of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) to serve on the newly constituted steering committee for the November 7 general election.
The EC boss last week inaugurated an 18-member committee which is supposed to ensure credible polls, but it is made up of known NDC activists.
Members include the Deputy Executive Secretary of the National Service Scheme (NSS) in-charge of Finance and Administration, Dr Karl Mark Arhin; Deputy Director General of Joint Operations of the Ghana Armed Forces, Colonel F. Ogbe; Deputy Commissioner at the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Joseph Whittal and Deputy Chairman of the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) in-charge of Operations, Samuel Asare Akuamoah.
The rest are the Head of Planning, Budgeting, Monitoring and Evaluation Unit at the Ghana Education Service (GES); Executive Secretary of the National Peace Council, Francis Azumah; Executive Secretary of the National Media Commission (NMC), George Sarpong; Director General, Operations, the Ghana Police Service, COP Christian Tetteh Yohonu and the Director of Operations of the Ghana Prisons Service, Sylvester K.B. Rabbles.
The committee, chaired by Ms Osei herself, has the seven Commissioners of her outfit as members, with the Director of Elections serving as Secretary.
But the inclusion of the likes of Dr Arhin, Francis Azumah and Joseph Whittal on the committee is raising eyebrows.
This is in view of the fact that all three are said to be loyalists of the ruling NDC.
In a statement released in Accra yesterday, pressure group ‘Let My Vote Count Alliance’ expressed worry over what it described as ‘the bizarre manner’ in which the Charlotte Osei-led Electoral Commission is preparing towards this year’s general election.
The statement signed by the Convenor, David Asante, underscored: “This latest move, to the LMVCA’s disappointment, only adds to a sequence of actions that show that the EC, in its preparation towards the 2016 general election, is not really interested in holding a non-partisan, professional and efficient line for delivering on its constitutional mandate.”
That, it said, was because “the so-called steering committee is populated by NDC people. It is an NDC-biased steering committee.”
He named Dr Karl Mark Arhin, who until recently was a former Deputy Director of International Affairs and Deputy Elections Director of the NDC and aspiring parliamentary candidate of the party in the Amenfi Central constituency during last year’s primary.
“This is what makes his nomination dangerous,” the statement noted. According to the leadership of the LMVCA, “The EC intends to use mainly National Service personnel as election officers,” wondering how fair the process would be when the person nominated to facilitate this process is a leading member of the ruling party.
The group also talked of the appointment of Francis Azumah of the Peace Council who is said to be a senior member of the NDC in the Builsa North constituency.
He was said to have at various times tried to contest as parliamentary candidate for the NDC in the constituency, with his strongest push for the position of District Chief Executive (DCE) of the Builsa District also known.
The statement also alleged that lawyer and Deputy Commissioner of CHRAJ, Joseph Whittal, is a known NDC loyalist, wondering how such a committee could help the ultimate national quest for free, fair and credible elections.
In this period of demand for greater transparency to boost stakeholder confidence in the EC, the LMVCA wondered, “Why did the Commission choose to introduce this whole concept of a steering committee on the complete blind side of the political parties at IPAC?” The pressure group intimated that it had been reliably informed that the decision to compose the committee was never mentioned at an IPAC meeting.
“Inasmuch as we respect the independence of the EC, the Commission’s independence must, however, not be used as an excuse against accountability and for bias,” it cautioned.
For members of LMVCA, “The Terms of Reference and mandate of the committee appear duplicitous, bogus and potentially wasteful of taxpayers’ money as currently framed. There are elections management committees at all levels—national, regional and district.”
They have therefore asked the Commission to “reverse the inauguration of the steering committee, go back to the drawing table with all key stakeholders and find consensus to, if need be, move this concept forward but in the right direction with the right people.”