Parliament on Friday agreed that it would not sit next Tuesday, June 30, 2020, to allow members to be in their constituencies to support the commencement of the compilation of a New Voters Register to be carried out by the Electoral Commission (EC).
Mr Thomas Nyarko Ampeh, MP for Asuogyamang Constituency, made an application to the matter, praying for the House not to sit, as was done by the House when the Majority New Patriotic Party (NPP) went to the primaries last week, for members to be in their constituencies at the start of the exercise.
The Commission has planned to use 38 days for the entire exercise which is targeting between 16 million and 16.5million people to register.
The position of Mr Ampeh was supported by Mr Benjamin Kpodo, MP for Ho Central, who argued that the attendance in the House has been poor since the Majority’s primaries and thus affecting the business of the House.
He expressed fears the trend might continue into the next week with the start of the exercise and supported the position put forward, and called for suspension of the sittings.
Alhaji Mubarak Mohammed Muntaka, Minority Chief Whip and MP for Asawase, who also supported the position, recalled that former chairs of the EC – Dr Kwadwo Afari Djan was before the House for four times, and Madam Charlotte Osei, twice- to apprise the House on their roadmaps then for the roadmaps, including the voter exercise.
He said the Business Committee, at its meeting the day before, had not anticipated the ruling of the Supreme Court.
The suit was in relation to a suit by opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and one Mark Takyi-Benson, which wanted an order for the use of the existing voter ID card and one Mark Takyi-Benson, who wanted the use of a birth certificate as source documents for eligibility to register as a voter.
The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday unanimously gave the EC the green light to commence with the compilation of a new Voters Register as scheduled. The Supreme Court has in a unanimous decision ruled that the Electoral Commission has the power to compile a new register.
By the ruling one can only register with the Ghana Card issued by the National Identification Authority (NIA), or a passport or two persons serving as guarantors for an applicant.
Speaker Oquaye, in a ruling on the application on the invitation of the EC Chair to the House, indicated the request for the EC briefing is a request that has happened before, and a demand of some of the members of the House.
He cautioned that would be compelled to fix a date for the EC’s briefing if it were made part of the business statement in a week’s time.
Majority Chief Whip and MP for Sunyani East Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh, deputizing for the Majority Leader and Leader of Government Business Osei Kyei-Mensah Bonsu, assured the House of the Majority Leader effort to ensure the appearance of the EC Chair for the briefing
When the House again visited the matter towards the close of business for the day, with Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, the First Deputy Speaker and MP for Bekwai in the chair, the House agreed not sit next Tuesday.
Sitting resumes next Wednesday, July 1, Republic Day, hitherto celebrated as holiday, but now being observed as a commemorative day. This holiday commemorates Ghana becoming a republic on 1 July 1960.
Meanwhile the EC, has announced that the registration exercise will take place in centres and district offices of the Commission throughout the country from 0700hrs to 1800 hrs each day.
In all, Ghanaian citizens, 18 years old and above and of sound mind are expected to register in the electoral areas where they reside or are ordinarily resident and must also not be prohibited from registering by any law in force.
The Commission has reiterated that safety measures, including the provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) and hand sanitizers as well as the compulsory wearing of face masks by all, have been put in place at all designated registration centres throughout the country to protect applicants from contracting the COVID-19 virus.
All applicants will be notified of the movement plans of the registration teams through public announcements, since the cluster system of registration would be used.
Security will be provided by the security agencies at all registration centres to protect lives and property during the exercise.