Parliament divided over election guarantor’s mandate

Parliament’s subsidiary legislation committee is deeply divided on the issue of one person acting as guarantor for five individuals unable to produce recognized identification under the new election regulations.

This new regulation is expected to guide next month’s limited voters’ registration exercise.

Documents available to JOYNEWS suggest officials of the Electoral Commission could not provide the rationale for one individual acting as guarantor for a maximum of five applicants who cannot provide any evidence of citizenship for registration.

The details captured in CI 91, which will mature today, will regulate the conduct of the exercise.

This is part of the reform undertaken by the EC as directed by the court in the 2013 Election petition.

The Supreme Court held among others that the electoral process in Ghana needed some reform. In view of that the EC together with the Interparty Advisory Committee made some proposals for electoral reform.

A reform committee subsequently met and proposed some recommendations, which were accepted by the EC. In order to guide the limited registration exercise, the EC is to enact a new legislation for the registration of voters.

The proposed regulation says that a person needs to have one voter’s registration guarantee form as evidence of identification if that person is unable to provide any of the required forms of identification for registration.

A registered voter shall, however, not guarantee the identity of more than five people and is required to indicate the relationship which the guarantor has with the applicant as well as somebody swear to affirm that the applicant is qualified to register as a voter.

The subsidiary Committee, however, observed that the EC could not proffer a reasoning behind one individual acting as guarantor for a maximum of five individuals who can not provide any form of identification.

The Committee was divided on this point and despite the reservations expressed by some MPs, the EC is waiting for the Constitutional Instrument it laid before Parliament to mature into law to enable some applicants to go through registration in April.

Joy News’ Elton Brobbey reports that Vice Chairman of the Subsidiary Legislation Committee in Parliament, Osei Kyei Ameyaw is alleging that already the identification forms is circulating in some border towns.

Mr. Ameyaw fears that if this situation is not managed properly, Ghana could face serious challenges at registration centers in April.

“It seeks to arrogate to the Electoral Commissioner the powers of granting citizenship which I am not in favor of. I believe the grant of citizenship is a constitutional issue,” said Mr. Ameyaw.

He explained that the granting of citizenship is restrictive and not extensive for all the way the EC has put it in its CI.

The vice chair of the subsidiary legislation said committee recommended in its report that the CI be allowed to mature.

Although not in favour of the CI, Mr. Ameyaw said there was nothing the Sub-Committee could do since the CI has been laid before the House and the whole House will have to reject it.

“The only consolation is the CI’s double edged sword principle as it opens the floodgates for non-citizens to come in through guarantee to qualify to enter our register. It also seeks to bring in sanctions or penalties or punishment.”

Story by Ghana | | Abubakar Ibrahim | Email: [email protected]

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