THE Representation of the People’s Amendment Law (ROPAL), which extends the right to vote in national elections to Ghanaian citizens abroad, will be enforced as soon as resources are made available for it.
The Chairman of the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, told the Daily Graphic on Tuesday that if all the required resources were made available, they would be used immediately to start enforcement.
“If I finished tomorrow, I would use it the next day,” he said in response to whether the law would be used if all requirements for its implementation were met in six months’ time.
Dr Afari-Gyan said he was not perturbed by reports in the December 11, 2007 issue of the Daily Graphic that the opposition had threatened to “resist with reasonable force any attempts to effect the implementation of the law in 2008”, stressing that he could not stop their right to resist.
He added, however, that ROPAL had been passed and it was now up to the EC to implement it.
“Until Parliament reverses itself in the passage of the law, we are implementors and will proceed towards implementation,” he said.
“But it takes money. As long as money is available, we will prepare,” he added.
Dr Afari-Gyan, however, gave the assurance that the EC would work assiduously to ensure that ROPAL was implemented with the consensus of all constituents in the country.
Already, officials of the EC have visited some countries abroad where the system is being practised and reports are being prepared on that.
According to the chairman, the ideas gathered by the officials from the working tour of the countries practising the law were going to be thoroughly studied and discussed throughout the consultations.
On the 2008 Budget allocation to the EC, Dr Afari-Gyan conceded that the EC had been given less than it asked for its operations but added that Parliament was handling the matter and so he would not comment further.
The December 3, 2007 issue of the Daily Graphic reported that the EC needed an additional ¢70 billion to top up its budgetary allocation from the 2008 Budget.
The report also said the Member of Parliament (MP) for Jirapa, Mr Edward Salia, had asked the commission not to limit the revision of the voters’ register to only electoral areas but extend it to polling stations.
To those concerns, Dr Afari-Gyan said the revision exercise was not a “wholesale registration process” but just an updating of the register.
Moreover, there were important monetary considerations that led to the proposal to review the register at the electoral level.
He said with about 22,000 polling stations across the country, the EC would need a lot of money to hire people for the exercise and stressed that the huge funding and material obligation of the EC became less if the revision was limited to the electoral areas, which are about five thousand.
Dr Afari-Gyan said the timetable for the revision of the voters’ register and other activities of the commission would be announced in due course.
He pointed out that ROPAL imposed on the EC some pre-requisites, including that which required it to engage people outside to collect data and open offices.
Apart from that, he explained that all the consultative processes being engaged in presently before the implementation of the law were in preparation also for a legislative instrument that would be placed before Parliament.
“You cannot embark on such an exercise without the legal backing and laid down rules,” Dr Afari-Gyan pointed out.
DAILY GRAPHIC, THURSDAY DECEMBER 13, 2007, PAGE 14