This by-election is not necessary!
For once, the two leading political parties appear to agree on one thing. The ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) are both in arms against the decision by the Electoral Commission (EC) to organise a bye-election in the Wulensi Constituency to elect a new Member of Parliament to replace Alhaji Saani Iddi, who passed away at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra on June 4, 2012.
Last Sunday, both sides of the House attended the final ‘Adoa’ in honour of the deceased in his hometown in the Northern Region. It is becoming clearer by the day, that Alhaji Iddi has united national politics in more ways than one.
In tune with the requirement of Article 112 (5) of the 1992 Constitution, the Electoral Commission has fixed a bye-election to elect the deceased MP’s successor on Tuesday, July 31, 2012. But, both the NPP and the NDC are not in favour of a bye-election, barely five months before the nation goes to the polls.
The EC says it is obeying the command of Article 112 (5) which states: “Whenever a vacancy occurs in Parliament, the clerk to Parliament shall notify the Electoral Commission in writing within seven days after the vacancy occurred, and a by-election shall be held within thirty days after the vacancy occurred.”
Sub-Section (6) of the Constitution goes ahead to state: “Notwithstanding clause (5) of this article, a by-election shall not be held within three months before the holding of a general election.”
The EC says it is mandated to respect this constitutional requirement, and has announced that contestants for the seat should submit their nomination forms on Tuesday 3 and Wednesday, July 4, 2012.
Even before the nominations could open, the two leading parties are threatening not to obey the orders of the Electoral Commission on the bye-election. The contention is that the Electoral Commission could not purport to use the old voters register and its photo identity cards, which have been declared null and void by the Parliament of the Republic of Ghana, on the application of the Electoral Commission itself, and that the only option open to the commission is for it to use the new biometric register.
The EC says it is unable to use the new biometric register because it has not finished compiling it. The other argument being put up to stay execution in the bye-election is that the new MP would not have more than three weeks appearance in the House before Parliament rises for the 2012 general elections.
The Chronicle is inclined to side with those calling for the bye-election to be scrapped. It does not make economic and political sense to sink so much money and efforts into electioneering campaign by the various political parties, only for the newly-elected member to fight another election, with barely one month sitting time in the House.
At a time the Electoral Commission is confronted with the threat of illegality if it goes ahead with the scrapped old register and its invalidated voters’ identity cards, the only option open to it, is for the EC to liaise with the various political parties at the Inter-Party Committee level to put aside this by-election.
We are of the view that all political parties would lend support to this call. With the unfortunate passing away of Mr. Emmanuel Asamoah Owusu Ansah, Member for Kwabre West on Friday, another by election is on the offing.
The Chronicle would like to believe that we would move forward with our democracy if we do not make a fetish out of constitutional requirements that may not be sacrosanct.
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