3 political parties storm out of EC technical meeting over new voters’ register

Officials of three political parties have walked out of a technical meeting with the Electoral Commission (EC) on the back of disagreement over compilation of a new voters’ register for the December general elections.

IT representatives of the various political parties were invited by the EC Thursday to thrash out outstanding issues regarding the controversial new voters’ register the EC is seeking to create for the polls.

Our correspondent Thomas Adotei Pappoe, who was at the EC headquarters in Accra, reports that the representatives of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), People’s National Convention (PNC) and the United Front Party (UFP) have stormed out of the meeting.

“Their reason is that instead of discussing the technical issues with them the EC appeared to have made up its mind of compiling a register,” our correspondent reported.

Despite the action by the NDC, PNC and UFP, the meeting went on with reps of the other political parties who have accepted the EC’s decision to compile a new register.

“The meeting has not halted…currently the meeting is still ongoing with the Electoral Commission,” our correspondent said.

The three parties claimed the agenda for the meeting was to discuss the challenges with the Biometric Voters’ Register and Biometric Verification Devices but it turned out the EC had a different agenda.

The EC, they said, rather went ahead to discus with them modalities on how to compile a new voters’ register which they have opposed.

The Director of IT of the NDC, Kwame Osei Griffiths, told our correspondent that information available to them suggests that the distribution for the BVDs and the BVRs will take 83 days, claiming it will thus not be possible for the EC to even start the registration on April 18 as announced.

Why new biometric system?

The Commission took the decision to acquire a new Biometric Voter Management System for the upcoming general elections based on the advice of its IT team and external consultants.

The two concluded it would be prudent to acquire a new system rather than refurbish the current system.

“It is important to note that the equipment that the entire voter management system runs on, from enrolment, duplication, adjudication to voters’ verification is obsolete and no longer supported by their Original Equipment Manufacturers,” the EC claimed earlier this year.

New voters’ register is a done deal

Despite criticism and resistance against the compilation of a new voters’ register, the EC has said it will go ahead with the exercise.

According to the EC, the scheduled engagement with the 21-member Eminent Advisory Committee and the political parties on Thursday, January 30 will not to seek consensus on whether or not to go on with the new registration exercise set to begin on April 18.

“You can’t get consensus anywhere; it can never happen and it will never happen. If we want to get consensus before we act, then we will never act,” Dr Serebour Quaicoe, the Director of Electoral Services, said on TV3 Saturday.

The January 30 meeting, he explained, had been arranged for the EC to inform the stakeholders of its programmes concerning the new voters’ register, and solicit views on how best it can be implemented.

“We have our programme; we will explain to them and then we move on with the programme,” he stated, adding “there is no doubt about us doing the registration”.

He said the EC is not under any obligation to have consensus on issues before acting, saying “with respect to compiling new voters register, we are convinced beyond reasonable doubt there is the need for i

”.