Governance expert, Fred Oduro, has advised the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission to be more tolerant of divergent views.

Mr Oduro’s advice follows a spat between the Chairperson of the elections management body, Jean Mensa and General Secretary of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Johnson Asiedu Nketia, last week.

“My first concern goes to the EC Chair. She needs to have a bigger heart. She needs to be able to accommodate all the key people. Particularly, in Ghana…you cannot take out the NDC and the NPP in the political equation and for the foreseeable future, I don’t see any party winning any election apart from these two.

“So if you are dealing with any of these parties, particularly the one in opposition, as Electoral Commission, you need to demonstrate…openness and transparency,” he said on current affairs programme, PM Express on Monday.

EC-NDC tension

There has been brewing tension between the opposition NDC and the EC in recent times over a number of election-related issues.

Some NDC members have accused the EC Chair and her deputy of pandering to the whims of the government.

Read: Stand-off between EC and NDC: Threat to our democracy?

During an Inter-party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting last week, Jean Mensa and Asiedu Nketia, engaged in an exchange that many has condemned as bad for Ghana’s democracy.

The NDC General Secretary had wanted to know if the Commission has gone to Parliament to seek budgetary appropriation to upgrade some biometric verification machines for the upcoming referendum on the election of district chief executives and district level elections.

Mr Asiedu Nketia also wanted a justification for the EC’s decision to abandon plans to upgrade the verification machines.

The EC Chairperson, however, stated in her reply that the Commission had been dealing with Parliament on the matters raised by Mr Asiedu Nketia but added that “I am not sure that we owe this response to the political parties.” This drew some murmurs from political party representatives at the IPAC meeting held at one of EC’s conference rooms.

While she was still explaining the EC’s position on the questions posed by Mr Asiedu Nketia, the EC Chairperson noted that some people were obstructing her attempt to answer the questions – singling out Mr Asiedu Nketia as one of those persons interrupting her.

The discussion then turned into a brief exchange between the EC Chairperson and the NDC General Secretary.

She accused Mr Asiedu Nketia of laughing while she was talking, Mr Asiedu Nketia, in turn, stated that a simple question like what he had asked did not require the “thesis” from her.

Furthermore, Mr Asiedu Nketia had previously accused the Commission of treating IPAC members with contempt.

He believes a comment by Deputy EC Chair, Dr Bossman Asare, over the electoral roll had demonstrated EC’s lack of commitment to a fair electoral process.

The NDC General Secretary said despite opposition by political parties against the approach adopted by the EC to conduct the limited registration exercise, the EC has refused to deal with key concerns.

Political tolerance

Mr Fred Oduro said on PM Express that although the EC has been given the authority to act independently, that must not be abused.

“When we talk about political tolerance, it is not only from politicians. It must also come from key political players particularly the election management body. [The EC’s] authorities must show that ‘we are not here for any particular group’.

“So sometimes you may have to bend backwards even to accommodate [political parties’ views’] so that whatever you are doing you can carry everybody on board. I believe the Commission and the EC Chair need to review what they perceive to be their independence,” he said on the nightly show.

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