The National Democratic Congress (NDC), is proposing the appointment of Commissioners of the Electoral Commission (EC) to be subjected to parliamentary approval.
This is part of the opposition party’s over thirty proposed recommendations for electoral reforms.
The NDC makes a point that the current mode of appointing Chairpersons of the electoral management body and its members appears partisan, arguing that representatives of the people must have a hand in the appointment.
It further justifies the proposal by saying, the EC’s critical requirements include independence, neutrality, credibility, and transparency, and competence, hence making appointments of EC top officials without parliamentary approval may tamper with these core values.
Further to advance its argument, the NDC’s stakeholders engagement proposals for electoral reforms referenced the appointment of Justices of the Supreme Court whose role is similar to the EC Chair and subordinates, but are appointed with prior parliamentary approval.
“Chairperson of EC as Returning Officer of the presidential election must not be solely appointed by the President, who is often a candidate.”
To buttress its demand, the proposal cited the Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) report that recommended the prior parliamentary approval for the appointment of the EC, and the government’s acceptance of the recommendation of the CRC report thereof.
The NDC’s proposals can be viewed here
Currently, the President upon the advice of the Council of State appoints Commissioners of the EC and the other members of the Commission, according to Article 70 (2) of the 1992 Constitution.
But many political stakeholders have made calls for a possible review of the existing approach of appointing the EC Chair, adding that the current model could be a reason for the low level of confidence in the EC.
There have also been calls for broader consultations and a possible amendment of the necessary laws to enable Parliament to vet and approve or disapprove of persons nominated to occupy the office.
It follows fears many have expressed about a possible trend of the removal of EC Commissioners appointed by previous administrations by successive governments.
One will recall that President Akufo-Addo on June 28, 2018, removed the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei and her two deputies – Amadu Sulley and Georgina Opoku Amankwa from office upon the recommendation of a committee set up by the Chief Justice, to investigate separate complaints brought by some Ghanaian citizens.
Charlotte Osei was accused of various procurement breaches, whilst the deputies were also found guilty of the same offenses, as well as financial malfeasance.
But the NDC said Madam Charlotte Osei, who was appointed by then-President John Mahama, was only hounded out to enable the NPP to rig the election in 2020.
John Dramani Mahama in particular has described as “regrettable” the decision by President Nana Akufo-Addo to appoint Jean Mensa.
2020 Election Petition
The results of the 2020 presidential election and the subsequent election petition judgment have given more room for the phenomenon, with the NDC already pushing for the current EC Chairperson, Jean Mensa, and her deputies from office.
They have described Madam Mensa as anti-NDC who is only not incompetent but also in bed with the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP)
In fact, two NDC members, Elikem K. Kotoko and Prince Derek Adjei petitioned President Akufo-Addo to dismiss Jean Mensa.