Ghana’s December 2012 Election Saga

Over 240,000 registered outside Ghana but did not vote – E.C.
By Kofi Ayim
More than 240,000 Ghanaians on official duties or assignments outside Ghana that registered to vote in the December Presidential and Parliamentary elections did not vote, according to Ghana’s Electoral Commission. These include officials and family of the about 60 or so diplomatic Missions/Embassies/Consulates; students on government scholarships; military and Security personnel, Ghanaians at the United Nations and other International organizations. Not all Ghanaians at the United Nations and other international bodies work at the pleasure or on the payroll of the government of Ghana. Most obtained work by their own efforts and are not considered among the 240,000. Similarly some mission and embassy staff that are locally hired/contracted are not classified diplomats or on official duties for the government of Ghana.
Ghana’s Electoral Commission prior to the elections had indicated that it lacked the resources to carry out voting for qualified Ghanaians living abroad and pointed out that only those on official assignments would be eligible to vote. The number given was less than 1,000. But the Electoral Commission has pointed out that it registered about 241,000 Ghanaians living abroad that could not vote, and Ghana’s main opposition party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) is seeing ghosts in the numbers. It requested the Supreme Court to direct the Electoral Commission to provide it with further and better particulars of the names and addresses of Ghanaians registered abroad and mode of registration and the Supreme Court unanimously granted NPP’s request.
The NPP is of the view that about 4.7 million votes cast in the December 2012 elections were dubious and has requested the Supreme Court to nullify that figure – 3 million declared for President John Mahama and 1.47 million for Nana Akufo-Addo. The NPP has only to prove that President John Mahama illegally obtained 155,000 to force a run-off of the Presidential elections.
Critics believe the 241,000 is an overkill and wonder how the figure was arrived at. According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), the combined strength of Ghana’s Navy and Air force in 2011 was 4000 (figures for the Army was not available), however, sources put the current strength of the Ghana Armed Forces at 18,000. The Ghana Police on the other hand, has 32,684 personnel in its service according to 2011 published reports; and the Foreign Service/Diplomatic Missions has less than 5000. The number of students on government scholarships, according to the same sources is negligible.
The U.S. Foreign Service with embassies in almost every country (with majority of staff being American citizens) employs roughly 31,000 people. When told of registered Ghanaians abroad a retired military officer snapped “tell that to the Marines” and asked “no nation would have more of its military and police personnel outside its country than inside, and Ghana is not at war, so who were these 241,000 registered people, diplomats? A legal expert described the exercise as “selective ROPAA.” ROPAA is the acronym of Representation of the Peoples’ Amendment Act that was passed in Ghana’s Parliament to allow Ghanaians living abroad to exercise their right of suffrage. The Act is however, yet to be implemented.
A school of thought postulates that the 241,000 strayed into the computation of Ghana’s Electoral Commission’s as part of legitimate final vote tally, while others question the wisdom in registration who would not be allowed to vote. A New Jersey NPP Chapter executive biblically philosophized “it’s a case of 241,000 Moses’ that saw the land of Canaan but never stepped there.” Meanwhile, the 241,000 that were disenfranchised have been silent on the issue. None of the so-called registered people overseas has come to confirm the EC’s claim.
Rumors are floating that some people voted in some Ghanaian missions and embassies. If it is true, did the Electoral Commission officials or their representatives make a trip to the U.S. and elsewhere to conduct/supervise elections for a handful of people in these missions; and did voting actually take place? What we have learned so far is that some people who are not diplomatic staff were invited to vote. These were some questions put to this writer when watching AFCON 2013 tournament.
At the time of going to press the Daily Graphic reported that the NPP had “submitted the names and codes of 4,709 polling stations where alleged irregularities took place.” But in a brief telephone interview, the NPP’s Deputy Communication Director, Mr. Samuel Awuku insisted that the report of the Daily Graphic was not accurate. “We furnished details of all 11,916 polling stations to the registry of the Supreme Court as requested by the respondents and directed by the Supreme Court. ” he retorted. Information as to whether the Electoral Commission has submitted directive of all the 241,00 registered Ghanaians abroad to the Petitioners is scanty.

Posted by on Mar 24 2013. Filed under Community News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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