President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has emphasised the importance of strengthening the institutional capacity of Ghana's electoral body to deliver on the verdict of the people through a free, fair and transparent electoral process.
President Akufo-Addo indicated: "I've said it to you before, and I will repeat it. I don't need the Electoral Commission to win an election; I don't want to win an election in Ghana because of the Electoral Commission. I want to win an election in Ghana because of the people of Ghana; that they make a free and open choice that Akufo-Addo will be, again, their choice."
President Akufo-Addo made the statement Thursday when the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mrs Jean Mensa, and her two deputies, paid a courtesy call on him at Jubilee House, as part of series of consultative meetings being held with stakeholders of the electioneering process.
He said to have an Electoral Commission that was partisan or open to manipulation was essentially inimical and dangerous to the country's democratic system.
According to the President, "what the ballot should do is to present an unvarnished verdict of the will of the Ghanaian people. That is what should take place of any well-functioning democracy; that the ballot represents a fair, clear statement of what wishes of our people are."
He added that "If there is any interference with that, it is a distortion of the popular will that, therefore, means that the democracy that you seek to advance itself becomes questionable."
The President was happy with measures underway to institutionalise the role and operation of the Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC). He said IPAC, since its institution in 1996, has provided a platform for all political parties to have their say and discuss issues with the commission directly as stakeholders.
On the ECs suggestion to persuade political parties to merge, the President said "I am not so sure that encouraging parties to merge is a part of the functions or remit of the electoral commission," adding that "those decisions, I believe, are for the parties; yours is to provide the regulations and the ambit within which the parties can operate."
He described as important the efforts the Commissioners were making to strengthen the EC, enhance its institutional capacity, and control its processes.
On her part, the Chairperson of the Commission thanked President Akufo-Addo for the support they had received since their appointment, adding that "for the first time in our history, we had you intervening in the release of our budget to us. So, this, year, we have been able to carry out our mandate smoothly."
She added, "Since you appointed us into office a year ago, we have been doing our best to ensure that the ideals and mandate you gave to us are achieved. We want to assure you that we are committed to peaceful, transparent and credible elections. In all our dealings, we have Article 45 of our Constitution as our guiding light."
Source: ISD (Rex Mainoo Yeboah)