‘No to new register’ – Minority NDC walk out of Parliament to protest against GhC1bn budget for EC

Haruna Iddrisu and Minority in Parliament
Haruna Iddrisu

MPs belonging to Ghana’s main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Saturday night, walked out of parliament in protest against a GHS 1bn budget estimate for the country’s Electoral Commission.

The action follows a demand made on the Election Management Body to justify its request for the proposed amount for the purposes of compiling a new register.

Representatives of the Electoral Commission were in Parliament at a special sitting to meet the minority’s demand —and to pave the way for the budget to be approved as the legislators suspend sitting ahead of the yuletide.

Sounding unconvinced, the opposition legislators walked out of the House alleging that the Electoral Commission had not complied satisfactorily with its request.

Jean Mensa, EC boss being sworn in with others

Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu said the EC has not convinced the NDC side of the House on why the nation needs a new register ahead of the 2020 polls.

“We on this side cannot appreciate why government would have to spent to produce a new register that gave birth to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and all Members of Parliament”, Mr Iddrisu said on the floor.

“Mr Speaker I owe you some level of respect but I am compelled to move out with the minority in protest. We will not support a new voter register”, he said as he led the minority to boycott sittings.

This, however, was not enough to stop the ongoing debate of the budget of the EC.

Voters’ register credible but overstretched — EC

The EC has, however justified the decision to change the voters’ register with just a year to the 2020 presidential and parliamentary elections.

According to the Commission, the current register has been overstretched, hence, the need for a new one with enhanced features to protect its credibility.

Addressing the media Monday ahead of Tuesday’s assembly elections, the electoral commission said the current register “is credible but it has been stretched to a point where you don’t want to take that same risk. We want to have something that is more credible. If you remember, during the exhibition some of you heard that some people were not captured because of the equipment we are using.

“This equipment we started using it in 2012…this is the only commission mandated by law to ensure that we run a very credible election, it is our job to make sure that going into a very major and partisan election you have what it takes.”

In March 2019, the EC announced it will compile a new voters’ register after an Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting.

The need for the new voters’ register, according to the Commission, has been necessitated by several factors, including the need to replace the outmoded biometric machines.

Last week five political parties including the NDC boycotted a meeting convened by the EC for a demonstration on a new voters register.

The other parties are the PNC, Egle party, APC and UFP. The EC invited the parties for a demonstration on the new system developed by some consultants.

The system will use telecommunication companies as the backbone to transmit 2020 Presidential and Parliamentary election results.

Addressing a news conference in Accra Deputy General Secretary of the NDC Peter Boamah Otokunor said the Jeane Mensah led administration is sidelining IPAC in preparations for elections 2020.

By Jonathan Ofori, Daily Mail GH

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