Ghana’s Electoral Commission( EC) has filed a motion appealing to the Accra High Court to extend the deadline that the court gave it to operationalise the Representation of the People Amendment Act (ROPAA), 2006 (Act 699), which gives Ghanaians in the Diaspora the right to vote from abroad.
On December 18, 2017, the Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court ordered the EC to operationalise ROPAA within 12 months by laying before Parliament a Constitutional Instrument (CI) that will set out the modalities for the implementation of ROPAA.
But in its motion filed on January 30, the EC is praying the court to extend the 12 month deadline, which ended in December 2018, to January, 2020.
An affidavit in support of the motion which was deposed to by the EC Chairperson, Mrs Jean Mensa, cites leadership challenges at the EC as the reason for the appeal for extension of time.
“I say that after the judgment of the honourable court, the 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 court presided over by Mr Justice Anthony Yeboah, had held that its order was to ensure that Ghanaians outside the country registered and voted in the 2020 elections.
The order was directed at the seven commissioners of the EC and the EC as a body and was to take effect from January 1, 2018.
According to the court, the EC was to “uphold and ensure the full compliance of the operationalisation of Act 699’’ within the 12-month period by laying before Parliament a Constitutional Instrument (CI) that would set out the modalities for the implementation of Act 699, and that in the event that the EC had any justifiable reason and was “unable to comply with the order”, the commission was to publish the justifiable reason(s) 30 days before the expiration of the deadline and also appear before the court to explain the reason(s).
Failure by the EC to implement ROPAA, the court held, was a violation of the fundamental human rights of Ghanaians in the Diaspora, whose right to vote had been guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution, which was made effective by ROPAA.