GHANAIANS IN DIASPORA MUST VOTE IN 2020 (ROPAA)

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The passage of The Representation of Peoples Amendment Act 699 of 2006 by former President Kufuor-led administration in 2006 was received with excitement by all Diasporas following a petition by Ghanaians Living Abroad (GLAs). We considered it a big milestone in deepening and concretizing Ghana’s democracy. We recognize the importance of Diaspora voting as it is geared towards increasing political participation and contributing to the legitimacy and accountability of democratic governments. However, over a decade after the law was passed, the EC is yet to implement it, except to give promises that have never been fulfilled.

A recent ruling by an Accra High Court headed by Justice Anthony Yeboah directing the Electoral Commission (EC) to implement the law in 2020 following another suit by the Progressive Alliance Movement (PAM) in 2017 as well as a promise by the President to make all resources available to the EC for the implementation of ROPAA after the past government have only given excuses for the delay in implementation and the Electoral Commission was oblivious to its implementation. .

PAM in its dealings with the EC provided a scope upon which ROPAA could be implemented, and such letters and directions have not even been acknowledged, expecting one to believe the office of the EC is on leave. This was after the EC has failed to provide a roadmap as expected by December 2018.

ON 3rd January 2019, Diaspora ROPAA Ambassadors and Volunteers, a non partisan platform dedicated to the implementation of ROPAA submitted a petition signed by over 250 Ghanaians across the globe for inclusion in the ROPAA Consultative and Implementation Committee. The Diaspora ROPAA Ambassadors and volunteers abroad are ready to assist the Electoral Commission by offering free human resources and logistics for ROPAA implementation in any country abroad.

This was after the nine-member committee that has been announced by the EC did not include a single Diaspora. The Electoral Commission is yet to respond to our petition which was submitted in early January. How can an Electoral Commission willing to implement ROPAA exclude representations from the very people the election concern the most?

The leadership as well as the entire membership of ROPAA Ambassadors in the Diaspora wishes to express its complete displeasure and disappointment about the laxity, sloppiness and inertia on the part of the Electoral Commission in implementing ROPAA. Any future opportunity for Ghanaians living abroad to vote in a General election remains unclear though the next election is in less than two years.

At a meeting of all Global Ambassadors of ROPAA on 12th & 13th January 2019, the following resolutions were reached:

1.    The EC should respond to the petition from us requesting to be part of the ROPAA Consultative and Implementation Committee. We demand the inclusion of 3 representatives of Ghanaians living abroad.

2.    We will no longer tolerate the ploy by the EC to delay the implementation. How many implementation committees must the EC form before it can implement ROPAA? We are convinced that there are international best practices available for the EC to follow from about 115 countries in implementing external voting. The EC does not need to reinvent the wheel. If countries like Chad, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Benin and Central African Republic can successfully implement external voting, Ghana has no excuse after over ten years of ROPAA. Therefore, we consider the continued delay in implementing the law as a deliberate and brazen violation of our right to vote.

3.    We want Mrs Jean Mensah led Electoral Commission to submit the necessary Constitutional Instrument to parliament without any further delays.

4.    Ghanaians living abroad are currently uncertain about ROPAA implementation in 2020 but failing to act is not an option. We are going to use all legitimate means to resist any move by the Electoral Commission to undermine our inalienable rights.

5.    We are giving the Electoral Commission three weeks to come out with all roadmaps and modalities including the Constitutional Instrument (CI) for ROPAA implementation.

6.    We have resolved to embark on widespread and sustained protests and demonstration in every country in the world, and at the various Ghana missions. We shall occupy the headquarters of the Electoral Commission with protests until our demands are met.

7.    We have resolved to mobilise all financial resources and seek the necessary legal means in our quest to ensure the implementation of the act.

8.    We shall continue to pursue all legal means till all sacrosanct clauses that have been enshrined in the constitution to malign a cross section of the society and that serves as a deterrent to nation building and open to abuse are removed.

In conclusion, we need from the EC the immediate release of Constitutional Instruments to implement ROPAA.

We need the Inclusion of Diaspora in ROPAA implementation, and we are requesting the required training for all Diaspora volunteer groups in all countries who are ready to help EC.

Kwaku Appiah

(ROPAA Ambassadors Team)