Parliament votes 106-92 to adopt controversial CI 126

The Parliament of Ghana has by majority votes of 106 against 92 adopted the controversial Constitutional Instrument (CI) 126 that is seeking to empower the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new voter’s register for the conduct of the 2020 general elections. This follows intense debate by Members from both sides (Majority and Minority caucuses) with no signs of reaching a consensus over the controversial law. The Minority members who had earlier opposed the CI 126 at the Subsidiary Legislation Committee level maintained their stance, insisting that the decision by the election management body to omit the existing voters ID card as one of the primary documents of proof of Ghanaian citizen to qualify one to register lacks legal basis. The Chairman of the Subsidiary Legislation, Dominic Ayine (from the Minority caucus), presenting the Committee’s report at a sitting on Tuesday, June 9, 2020, said even though the rationale for the CI 126 was in accord with the powers of the Commission under Article 51 with respect to the compilation of a credible and widely voter register for the conduct of public elections and referenda in the country, members could however, not arrive at a consensus as to whether or not the exclusion of driver’s license and the existing voter ID from CI 126 was constitutional. Nevertheless, he said the Committee by a majority decision recommends to the House to adopt its report and allow the Public Elections (Registration of Voters) (Amendment) Regulations, 2020 (C.I. 126) to come into force at the expiration of twenty-one sitting days in accordance with Article 11(7) of the Constitution. The Ranking Member of the Committee, Yaw Buabeng Asamoah (from the Majority side) welcomed the CI 126, arguing that the exclusion of the existing voters ID as proof of Ghanaian citizen is consistent with the Constitution, referring to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Abu Ramadan vs. AG and EC case to buttress his point. According to him, the existing voters roll is full of holders NHIS Card holders which the Supreme Court ruled against and ordered the EC to delete all names of persons who used that ID as proof of Ghanaian citizen to register for the voters ID. The MP for Yilo Krobo, Magnus Amoatey, contributing to the motion told the House that Ghana’s COVID-19 case count could hit 100,000 if the EC is allowed to compile a new voter’s register for the conduct of the 2020 elections. The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, on the other hand questioned the competence of the Chairperson of the EC, Jean Mensa since she failed to personally show up to defend the decision of her outfit to compile a new register at the Committee sitting. His argument was countered by the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who insisted that legal basis supporting the omission of the existing voters ID as proof of a Ghanaian citizen was consistent with the law, urging the House to go ahead and approve the CI 126. Following the intense debate without reaching a compromised stance, the Minority Leader, called for a secret ballot, a request which was granted by the Speaker, Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye. The secret ballot resulted in a majority votes of 106 against 92 recorded by the Minority side of the House. Haruna Iddrisu who is also the lawmaker for Tamale South, interacting with journalists’ moments after adoption and approval of the CI 126 said posterity will favour the position of the Minority Caucus. He added that a future NDC administration will guarantee the rights of Ghanaian citizens to vote without any hindrance. A deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development who is also the MP for Akuapem South, Osei Bonsu Amoah, in a counter argument told journalists that the concerns of the Minority are baseless.

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