The controversy surrounding the setting up of an Election Steering Committee by the Electoral Commission (EC) appears not to be ending.
Whereas members of the public were made to believe that the EC had suspended the work of the committee after an Inter-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) meeting with the EC in Accra last Friday, the EC has denied suspending the work of the committee.
In a statement signed by the acting Director of Public Affairs of the EC, Mr Christian Owusu Parry, the EC described as erroneous reports that the committee had been suspended and urged the public to disregard such reports.
The setting up of the committee has resulted in controversy following the revelations that one of the committee members, Dr Karl Mark Arhin, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the National Service Scheme, was a member of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).
The committee was expected to coordinate the activities of the various stakeholders within the electoral process to ensure successful elections. But, according to the parties, they did not know the objective of the committee and they were not consulted before setting it up.
At the end of the meeting, some political parties asked the Electoral Commission (EC) to come out clearly on the Election Steering Committee, which was inaugurated this month.
The political parties raised the concerns during an IPAC meeting with the EC in Accra last Friday.
The meeting was meant to discuss key issues on the 2016 general election, including the voters register, manual verification, limited registration, opening of offices to meet the demand of the law and the electronic register.
Representatives of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), New Patriotic Party (NPP), Convention People’s Party (CPP), People’s National Convention (PNC) and other political parties were at the meeting.
In an interview with the Daily Graphic after the meeting, the Chairman of the PNC, Mr Bernard Mornah, said the political parties needed to understand the objectives of the committee to enable them to sell the idea.
A political pressure group, Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA), has also called on the EC to dissolve the committee.
Mr Mornah said the EC largely agreed with the concerns raised by the political parties and accepted to go back to the drawing board to determine the way forward for the committee.
He said the EC admitted that it consulted institutions and not political parties.
The EC therefore assured the parties that it would get back to them on the
matter in due time.
Mr O.B. Amoah, who was part of the NPP team at the IPAC meeting, said his party did not understand the basis for the setting up of the committee, wondering which law backed its establishment.
He also said at the meeting, the EC officials accepted the concerns expressed by the political parties and agreed to return to the drawing board.
Responding later to reports that the EC had discounted claims that the committee had been suspended, Mr Amoah said the NPP would not recognise the committee.
Mr Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, who was part of the NDC team, said the NDC equally expressed surprise at the formation of the committee and backed calls for its suspension until all the stakeholders had been made to understand the rationale
for the committee.
He said it was not true that the NDC was consulted over the setting up of the committee.
Concerning the issue of the limited registration exercise, he said the political parties recommended that the EC should postpone the date for the limited registration exercise from March 18 to April 28, 2016.
That, according to the parties, was because the Public Elections Regulations (C.I. 75) which was to regulate the elections was still in Parliament and expected to be passed by April.
But in its statement to set the records straight, the EC said it assured the stakeholders, after persistent calls for the Commission to reconsider the setting up of the committee, that it would meet and discuss the concerns raised and inform IPAC of its decision later.
“This should not be misconstrued as a suspension of the committee. The committee remains in place until a contrary decision is made,” it stated.
It appealed to members of the Election Steering Committee to stay focused as it took the necessary steps to address the concerns raised.