The Coalition of Domestic Election Observers has predicted an imminent constitutional crisis in a case where the December general election is delayed or postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the group, although some constitutional experts are working round the clock to find viable options for worst-case scenarios, the constitution did not envisage a period where there would be no conduction of the general election.
Speaking in an interview on CitiTV’s Eyewitness News, the National Coordinator of CODEO, Albert Arhin said, even if the cases of coronavirus subsides by September it will be almost impossible for the Electoral Commission to compile another voters’ register, given the nature of the virus.
He noted, “…Even if this thing subsides and there is not ample evidence to show clearly that it is gone, then definitely there is going to be some opposition facing the EC. So, it is not going to be easy at all. If we are not able to do the election, there might be a constitutional crisis.”
“…But I think by now, constitutional experts are thinking of a way out. The other option is that, if the compilation is not able to take place then maybe, they could use the old register. But even there, how do you conduct the election if the pandemic hasn’t abated maybe by September or thereabout. It is readily even dicey because the owners of the register don’t want to use it so maybe a way has to be found to do the new register,” he added.
He further emphasized that the current situation Ghana finds itself in is very confusing and the least mistake made may breed several repercussions which may subsequently lead to the further spread of the disease. Particularly with respect to the EC’s refusal to use the old register and the suggestion to start registration in regions which are not under lockdown he said;
“The problem I envisage is the way the Ghanaian is going to conduct himself or herself. Look at the food that we are distributing, the queues, pandemonium, panic, and the rush, so if it is going to be done areas that have not been affected, my problem is how the Ghanaian is going to behave in the rush to get registered. That is the fear that I have. If in those areas they are going to adhere by keeping the distances, then probably they can go ahead and do it. But where is the guarantee that there is not going to be a stampede? It’s really a dicey issue.”
Though the idea of a new register has faced intense attacks, the EC hopes to introduce a facial recognition option in addition to fingerprint verification.
The Electoral Commission of Ghana also seeks to replace its biometric machines to address issues with verification that could mar the outcome of the elections.
In addition, it also seeks to make the Ghana Card and passport the only acceptable identification for the upcoming voter registration