By Elvis DARKO, Accra
A fierce battle is unfolding between the Electoral Commission (EC) and lawyers of a group of some Ghanaians abroad, called Progressive Alliance Movement (PAM), over attempts by the EC to further delay implementation of Representation of the People’s Amendment Act (ROPAA) for another 12 months.
EC Chairperson, Mrs Jean Mensa, in an affidavit sighted by The Finder, has pleaded with an Accra High Court to grant the commission 12 months’ extension, ending January 2020, towards the implementation of Act 699 (ROPAA).
However, A-Partners @Law, the firm representing the Ghanaians abroad, in a 27-point affidavit in opposition to the motion for extension of time, explained that the commissioners of EC by their actions have treated the court with contempt and do not deserve a grant of their plea.
On December 18, 2017, an Accra High Court, presided over by His Lordship Anthony Yeboah, ordered the EC to operationalise Act 699 within 12 months from the date of judgement.
That ultimatum expired on December 17, 2018.
In the affidavit dated January 30, 2019, Mrs Mensa explained that she experienced leadership challenges, which led to the removal of her predecessor (Madam Charlotte Osei) and her two deputies.
She added that that prolonged leadership challenges and stalled decision making at the management level affected the operationalisation within the period ordered by the court.
The EC boss further explained she was unable to implement the court order because of the engaging role she played in the creation of six new regions.
The inability of Jean Mensa to comply with the orders, according to the oath, was not an attempt by the EC chairperson to delay the operationalisation or disrespect the court, but due to various circumstances beyond her control.
It added that the EC boss has since inaugurated an implementation committee chaired by the Deputy Chairperson, Dr Bossman Asare Eric, which is in consultation with the general public, stakeholders and other countries that are practicing External Voting, to take appropriate steps for its implementation in Ghana.
However, A-Partners @Law argued that considering the attitude exhibited by the EC, granting the instant application would be to encourage losing parties in the suit to elect their own time and manner of complying with the orders and judgement of the court, a situation that does not augur well for, and will frustrate, the administration of justice.
It added that EC’s attempt to blame the non-compliance on certain internal leadership problems ought to be rejected as the commission was never shut down.
According to the law firm, chairman of the Progressive Alliance Movement sent no less than eight letters to the EC and its commissioners, reminding them of the 12 months within which they had been ordered to work and pass a Constitutional Instrument (CI).
However, there was only one response in December 2018 from the chairperson, who claimed that she had not received the previous correspondence.
According to the lawyers, the excuse of referenda on six new regions is unacceptable, saying that shows the lack of interest and low priority given ROPAA since its passage into law.
A-Partners @Law noted that the implementation committee the EC said it has inaugurated ought to be rejected as it amounts to activities at trial and neither ordered nor contemplated by the judgement of the court.
The lawyers said Progressive Alliance Movement has submitted a draft CI to assist the EC, but it has been ignored.
The respondents argued that the EC and its commissioners have demonstrated by their attitude, inaction, disregard and inattention that they are a law unto themselves and chose to dissimulate in the pretence of implementing ROPAA than actually doing it with a sense of urgency, the same way they have acted 13 years since the law was passed.
According to the lawyers, the date of filing the instant application for extension is a show of contempt as the court gave EC and its commissioners until November 30, 2018 to announce its difficulties.
Source: The Finder