Confusion in Parliament over CI on New Voters Register

Even before the real debate on the yet to mature Constitutional Instrument (CI 126) on the compilation of a new voters register begins, developments in Parliament have already given a fore taste of things to come.

Parliament was thrown into a state of confusion on Friday, June 5, 2020 during the consideration of the Report of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation Chaired by a member from the Minority side in Parliament.

Disagreements between the members of the Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Majority New Patriotic Party (NPP) at the Committee level, spilled over into the discussions in plenary and this did not allow for the presentation of the Committee’s report.

They disagreed on the inclusion and the exclusion of birth certificates and the old voter ID cards as primary documents to be considered for the upcoming exercise for the compilation of a new voters register.

The House was totally divided along the lines of the entrenched party positions taken by the NDC and NPP on the quest by the Electoral Commission to compile a new voters register to be used in the upcoming general elections in December this year with the exclusion of the old voters ID card.

While the Chairman of the Committee led by the NDC’s Dominic Akuritinga Ayine claimed that the Report of the Committee wasn’t ready at the time and therefore copies could not be made available to the rest of the Members of the House for deliberations to take place, the NPP Ranking Member, Yaw Boaben Asamoa, was insistent that the Report was ready, but was unsigned by the Chairman.

Meanwhile, this very Report which will set the tone for the debate on the Electoral Commission’s Constitutional Instrument (C.I 126) for the compilation of the new voters register, had already been laid in the House the previous day.

All things beings equal, the CI would automatically become law after the 21 mandatory sitting days of Parliament which will mature after Tuesday, June 9, 2020 sitting of Parliament.

The Chairman of the Subsidiary Legislation Committee, Dominic Ayine, later explained to the House that, after he had finished writing the report, he handed it over to the Ranking Member, Yaw Boabeng Asamoah to glance through to ensure that the views of all sides had been taken into consideration. Only for the Ranking Member to cancel portions of the report his side disagrees with.

According to the Chairman, he had to take the pains to reorganize the report which had been mutilated by the Ranking Member, hence the delay the inability to present the report to the House.

This generated quite a heated argument on the Floor of the House because by practice, it was always the Chairman of a Committee that was responsible for writing and presenting a Committee’s report to the House and not the other way round.

In this case however, it appeared the Ranking Member who is a Member of the Majority side of the House was trying to usurp the authority of the Chairman who is a Member of the Minority side. The Subsidiary Legislation Committee is one of such committees of Parliament which has its Chairmanship invested in the Minority side of the House.

After some back and forth, the House came to the conclusion that the Chairman of the Committee should continue to put his Committee’s report together for presentation on Tuesday, June 9, 2020.

Source: Clement Akoloh 

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