The Electoral Commission (EC) Representative of the Peoples’ Amendment Act (ROPAA) Consultative and Implementation Committee on Monday engaged stakeholders from the Diaspora to brainstorm on the roadmap to operationalize the law.
Dr Akwasi Awua Ababio, Director Diaspora Affairs, Office of the President, who led the delegation assured the Committee and the EC that the Diaspora Community is ready to support and play vital role for the ROPAA’s implementation.
“The Diaspora Community through its association will work out and present tangible position paper towards the implementation of the law,” Mr Ababio stated in Accra.
Other members of the Diaspora Community include: Mr Prince O. Sefah, Mr Kofi B. Oppong, Mr Matthew Kyeremeh, and Mr Richard Ahiagbor.
Dr Bossman Eric Asare, EC Deputy Chairman, in-charge of Corporate Services who also doubles as the Chairman of the Committee, explained that the Act charges the EC with the responsibility to make regulations for the implementation of the ROPAA.
“In complying with the obligation imposed by the Act, the Commission set up a sub-committee to make recommendations on how best the ROPAA can be implemented,” he said.
He said the law mandates that citizens be registered as voters while resident abroad and being outside the jurisdiction of Ghana, and doing so from/at their places of residence abroad or designated centres close to their places of residence abroad or from/at the Ghana Mission/Embassy within their jurisdiction abroad.
The Law also mandates that the Voter’s Identity Cards to enable them to vote in public elections and referenda be issued to them while resident abroad and being outside the jurisdiction of Ghana at the time of such elections.
Responding to the issues raised, a Member of the ROPAA Implementation Committee, the Reverend Dr Ernest Adu-Gyamfi of the National Peace Council, said the Committee was conscious of the fact that there might be people abroad who hold themselves out as Ghanaians but who were in fact not Ghanaian citizens.
“Great care would therefore be taken, so that non-Ghanaians will not take part in our elections, to this end the Committee recommends that anyone who turns up at a registration centre abroad to register as a voter must show evidence of citizenship,” he said.
On the Authenticity of resident permit, he said since the registration officials may not be able to determine the authenticity of resident permit, Rev Adu-Gyamfi explained that, the committee has recommended that the EC contacted the appropriate authorities in oversee to provide the Commission with the list of Ghanaians who have been granted resident permit.
The EC ROPAA Committee members who participated in the stakeholder engagement were Mrs Adwoa Abrefa Asuama, EC Member; and Dr Benjamin Kumbuor, a leading member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Others were Professor Ransford Gyampo of the University of Ghana, and Mr Kofi Akpaloo, Representative of the Minority Parties without representation in Parliament and Leader of the Liberal Party of Ghana.
Dr Kojo Asante of the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD); Mr John Boadu, General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP); were however absent.
It would be recalled that following advocacy by interest groups, a Bill was introduced in Parliament in 2006, the Representative of the People Amendment Bill (ROPAB) to amend the representation of the People’s Law of 1992 PDNC Law 284.
The PNDC Law 284 did not make provision for Ghanaian citizens other than persons working in Ghana’s diplomatic missions, persons working with international organisations of which Ghana is a member and Ghanaian students on Government scholarship, to be registered in the countries where they reside.
The ROPAA, Act 2006, ACT 699 was therefore passed to extend the right of the Ghanaian to participate in voting in public elections and referenda to Ghanaians living outside Ghana.