The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has emphasized the need for the country to conduct the December general elections irrespective of the current pandemic, to forestall any needless constitutional controversy, which could throw the country into crisis.
He argued that the constitution of the republic makes no provision for the extension of the mandate of the President who wins executive power beyond four years, adding that on January 7, 2021, when his mandate as the current President expires, a duly elected person must be ready to be sworn in as the President of the Republic.
He noted that views that suggest that the elections be put on hold till the pandemic is over cannot be sustained in the face of the constitutional crisis the country would face should the country fail to go to the polls in December. “That is not possible…there is no other way, and in order to forestall any needless constitutional controversy, which could throw our nation into jeopardy, we must vote on December 7, 2020. The same applies to parliament.” The President put up these strong arguments in an address to the nation yesterday ahead of the compilation of a new voters’ register, which commences today, He emphasised that the compilation of the voters’ register is one of the important tasks in the effective functioning of any democracy, and thus encouraged all eligible voters to participate fully in the exercise to vote to choose the President of the nation and the Member of Parliament of their area. “In effect, ‘our vote, our thumb’ is the expression of our individual sovereign power as a citizen, which we should cherish and guard at all times”. The President noted that Ghana is often cited as a shining example of the place in Africa where the electoral process works and where it is always being improved upon.
He added that a having held seven consecutive presidential and parliamentary elections, resulting in the election of five presidents in the 27 years of the Fourth Republic, with peaceful transfers of power from a governing to an opposition party on three separate occasion, should be a record that must be treasured by all.
The President said 33,367 polling stations across the country will embark on an exercise to compile a new voters’ register, and thus entreated all eligible Ghanaians to avail themselves for the exercise. He emphasised that the exercise is another journey to help deepen further the nation’s democratic credentials.
He said the Supreme Court’s affirmation of the EC’s mandate to compile a new register reiterates the widely held belief that a credible electoral register and, indeed, a credible election are important ingredients to securing the future wellbeing of any democratic nation.
“I am proud to be a citizen of a nation whose independent institutions like the judiciary and the Electoral Commission continue to operate without fear or favour, ill will or malice and without regard to the political, religious or ethnic affiliation of any citizen or group of citizens.”
President Akufo-Addo reassured all eligible voters of their safety at the 33,327 polling stations across the country, explaining that the Electoral Commission has put in place the necessary, elaborate protocols for the process.
“All these protocols should be adhered to strictly. Additionally, I want to remind all Ghanaians that all the other protocols and restrictions, especially those dealing with large gatherings, must be adhered to and enforced at the polling stations at all times. So, let us all abide by them and conduct ourselves in a manner befitting the image and status of Ghana,” he added.
The President continued, “If you do not register now, you cannot vote in December. Present your Ghana Card or passport, which are the only two forms of valid identification. In the absence of any of these valid IDs, an applicant can submit one completed Identification Guarantee Form, endorsed by two registered voters, to be registered and issued with a voter ID card. By these procedures, all eligible voters will be registered. No disenfranchisement of voters is contemplated by them.”
Military deployment to ensure safety Speaking to the concerns raised about the recent security deployments in some parts of the country, the President assured that the security in these areas was to protect their country against foreign intruders and not to disenfranchise any eligible Ghanaian.
He noted that, for example. operations such as ‘Conquered Fist’ and ‘Koudangou’ have been going along for some time since February 21, 2019.
Again, in the fight against COVID-19, it will be recalled that the President took the decision on Saturday, March 21, to close all the country’s borders by land, air and sea, with the military assisting personnel of the Immigration Service to shore up the country’s eastern, western and northern borders.
“This development, for example, during the period of the three-week lockdown of Accra, Tema, Kasoa and Kumasi, led to the arrest of some 5,000 persons along our borders who had entered our country illegally. Indeed, the first six recorded cases of COVID-19 in the Volta Region, for example, were those of West African nationals who entered the country illegally,” he said.
Giving further details on the deployment, the President indicated that in total, 207 soldiers have been deployed along the borders of the Upper East Region; 110 in the Northern Region; 102 in the North East Region; 98 in the Volta Region; 72 in the Oti Region; 69 in the Upper West Region; 64 in the Bono Region; 21 in the Savannah Region; and 14 in the Western Region.
“Let me state without any form of equivocation that these deployments are not in any way intended to intimidate or prevent eligible Ghanaians from registering to vote in December. They are there for their express purpose, which is to guard our borders. That is the limit of their remit, and they will not be permitted to stray beyond that remit,” the President assured.
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