The Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana has filed for an extension to implement the Representation of the Peoples Amendment Act (2007) popularly known as ROPAA.
The EC was directed by the court to ensure that it operationalizes the ROPAA Act 699 by December 17th, 2018. But the EC is essentially praying the court to allow it another 12 calendar months to fully operationalize the 12-year old law that made will make it legal for Ghanaians living abroad to vote in general elections in Ghana.
In an affidavit to the court deposed by the Chairperson of the Commission, Jane Mensa, the Commission says it has not been able to kick into effect Act 699 because of three main challenges that have bedevilled the electoral body.
“I say that after the judgement of the honourable court, and before the order of the court could be complied with, 1st Respondent [EC] experienced serious leadership challenges eventually leading to the removal from office of my predecessor and the Deputy Commissioners who were then in the Commission”.
The affidavit further notes that, “I say yet again that prolonged leadership challenges at the 1st Respondent/Commission and stalled decision-making at the management level of the 1st Respondent/Applicant and thus affected the operationalization of Act 699 within the one (1) year period ordered by this Honourable Court”.
The Chairperson of the EC additionally deposed to the fact that the Commission, “was unable to implement the order of the Court thereafter because of its work relating to National Assignment for the just ended creation of the six (6) new regions in the country”.
The Affidavit further said as a sign of its willingness to operationalize Act 699, the EC, “has since inaugurated an implementation committee chaired by the Deputy Chairperson, Dr. Bossman Asare Eric, in consultation with the general public and the stakeholders and other countries that are practicing External Voting to take the appropriate steps for its implementation in Ghana”.
The Chairperson indicated that since the Court has the power and authority to extend the time within which the 1st Respondent/Applicant [EC] is given to operationalize Act 699 for the benefit of the Applicants/Respondents and persons to be affected by the operation of Act 699, she is praying the Court, “for the extension of time for twelve (12) calendar months ending January 2020, to enable the 1st Respondent/Applicant herein take the necessary steps as ordered by the court in its judgment referred to above”.
In an affidavit in opposition to the motion for extension of time by the EC and deposed to by Anna Owusu Mireku, a staff of A-Partners @Law, the Applicants claim “that the instant application for extension of time by the EC itself is a show of contempt, as the Court gave the EC and its Commissioners until November 30, 2018 to announces its difficulties”.
The Applicants further stated that “the absence of this date in the motion of the EC shows that contemptuously, they not even aware of it and certainly did nothing.
They are therefore praying the Court to treat the actions of the EC as having treated the Honourable Court with Contempt and that they do not deserve a grant of the present prayer for an extension of one year. The party will move their motions in court on the 12th of February 2019.