The Electoral Commission (EC) wants 12 more months to implement the Representation of the People Amendment Act (ROPAA).
The Act seeks to provide an opportunity for Ghanaians living abroad to participate in general elections, was passed by Parliament 12 years ago.
But the EC has been unable to see to its implementation. The Commission cites the unavailability of the required resources as its reason for failing to adhere to the law.
Not even a suit and an order by the Accra High Court in 2017 for the Commission to begin the process of implementation has caused it to act.
In that case, the Presiding judge, Justice Anthony Yeboah, chided the EC for breaching the rights of Ghanaians living abroad by failing to give them an opportunity to vote.
He thus condemned the EC’s failure to address challenges preventing Ghanaians living abroad from voting, and specifically asked them to ensure that arrangements are made for such people to vote in the 2020 elections.
If the processes had started as the court had ordered, the EC should have completed the process by end of 2018.
Joy News has, however, cited a copy of a notice of motion for an extension of time for the implementation of the orders of the court.
It said “Motion on notice for and on behalf of the Respondent/Applicant [which is the EC] for an order for Extension of Time for 12 calendar months within which to operationalise Act 699…”
The EC Chair, Jean Mensa in an affidavit in support of the motion stated that management challenges at the Commission which led to the removal of the former Chair, Charlotte Osei as one of the reasons why the act had not been implemented.
“I say yet again that prolonged leadership challenges at the Commission stalled decision making at the management level and thus affected the operationalisation of Act 699 within the one year period ordered by the court.
“I say further that the EC could not constitute a Committee to carry out the orders of the court because of the prolonged leadership challenges relating to my predecessor and her deputies.”
Mrs Mensa in her affidavit also added that the EC under her leadership, although had established a Committee to see to the implementation of the orders of the court, could not do so in required time because it had to carry out a Referendum on the creation of six new regions.
She said the delay in complying with the orders of the court was not an attempt by the EC to disrespect the court but that it was due to “various circumstances beyond its control.”
The EC Chair added, “in the circumstances, I pray for the extension of the time for 12 calendar months ending January 2020 to enable the Commission to take the necessary steps as ordered by the court in its judgement referred above.”