Government has given the clearest indication yet that it will make sure that “safe, free and fair elections” are held in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Minister of Information noted that if countries like South Korea and Mali had held elections in this period, Ghana should also invest “our best energies, our innovations [and] our creativity” in ensuring that elections are held.
Addressing journalists in Accra at the Ministry of Information’s bi-weekly briefing on Covid-19 on Tuesday, May 12, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah reiterated that government is not considering extending its mandate with the pandemic as an excuse.
This comes in the wake of concerns raised in some quarters about a constitutional lacuna if the ban on social gathering continues to be in force, thereby having a ripple effect on the country’s elections calendar.
So far, the Electoral Commission, Ghana (EC) has not been able to compile a new register for the polls – scheduled for December 7 – as intended.
This has been attributed to the ban on social gathering as the Commission had scheduled April 18 for the exercise.
It is unclear when the exercise will be held as the ban was last Sunday extended to the end of May.
“Government takes note on commentary suggesting that some possible governance arrangement can be appropriate should it become impossible to hold elections in December,” Mr Oppong Nkrumah noted.
“But the government does not contemplate any justifiable reason to seek to extend its first term constitutional mandate with the virus as an excuse without a safe free and fair elections.”
He cited how the United States of America, Ivory Coast and Burundi, among others, are exploring ways to hold elections in these trying times.
Ghana must do same, he suggests.
“The government is of the view that instead of contemplating measures that are not envisaged in the constitution, our best energies, our innovations, our creativity should be invested in exploring how a country like ours can have safe, free and fair elections.”
He also indicated that government is engaging with stakeholders to examine safety measures that could be put in place after the ban on social gathering is finally lifted.
“This is with the objective of ensuring that some sense of normalcy can be achieved while at the same time protecting the population.
“It is important to think ahead in these times even while we maintain the restrictions currently.”