Parliament has invited the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission (EC) to brief the Committee of the Whole on a new Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) ahead of Election 2024.
The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban S.K. Bagbin has directed that the Chairperson herself, Jean Mensah should appear for the briefing.
According to the Speaker, the EC must be represented at the highest level at the next meeting of the committee with officials of the commission and the National Identification Authority (NIA).
The Speaker told the House that the appearance of Mrs Jean Mensah would help members obtain the required assurances into how the commission would address their concerns before laying the new C.I. before the House.
The C.I. is seeking to rely solely on the national identification card – Ghana Card – as the only form of identification to register new voters.
Parliament to be specific in future letters
Addressing the House soon after a meeting of the Committee of the Whole with the officials of the EC and the NIA, Mr Bagbin also directed that if members of Parliament wanted to invite any personality to brief them on any issue, they should state so in the future letters.
He said earlier communications by the House was only directed at institutions and therefore the EC did not err in sending a deputy chairperson to brief members of Parliament on the new C.I.
“The deputy chairperson in charge of operations is quite high enough but he cannot be giving the assurances that the Chairperson will give.
The directive of the Speaker came after the Minority Leader, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, per the report of the Special Budget Committee, which had been adopted, indicated that the two leaders of the EC and the NIA were to sit together to listen to themselves and for members to listen to them to make a determination and “most importantly for us to have an assurance from the two institutions before the C.I. will proceed to its laying.”
“Mr Speaker, unfortunately the Chairperson of the EC is not here; I recognised that the deputy is here but it is not the same as the Chairperson of the EC.
“The Chairperson of the EC has consistently avoided Parliament and we are of the view that the issues that we have raised since morning are issues that we prefer the EC chairperson to be here to give us the needed assurance before we can proceed on this path.
“But her absence will make it difficult for us to accept the deputy to be the one to give that kind of assurances,” he said.
He urged the House to wait for the EC Chairperson to be here and “if the Chairperson is here the needed assurances, we on this side need, we will be able to get it.”
Letters were not specific
Responding, the Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the letters that were “transmitted” to the two institutions did not “stress” they must be necessarily represented by the heads.
He, therefore, suggested future letters to specifically indicate which authority the House needed to brief them on important national matters.
The EC and the NIA, in the presence of the Minister of Finance, today engaged in a closed-door meeting with the Committee of the Whole to brief members on the various concerns raised ahead of the laying of the new Public Elections (Registration of Voters) Regulations, 2022.
The EC team was led by the Deputy Chairman in charge of Corporate Services, Dr Bossman Eric Asare, and the Director of Electoral Services, Dr Serebour Quaicoe.
The 12-member delegation from the NIA was led by the Executive Secretary of the authority, Professor Kenneth Agyeman Attafuah.
The meeting was part of efforts to build a consensus before the EC could proceed to lay the new C.I. in Parliament.