Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Ghana: EC announces creation of 45 new constituencies

Last week, the Electoral Commission (EC) chairman, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, made it known that the 45 new constituencies are to be demarcated in time for this year's presidential poll. Speaking at a forum organised by the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) he said that the creation of the new constituencies was the EC's constitutional responsibility following the release of new census figures by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS).

The opposition claims that the timing of the announcement has been calculated to benefit the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC). Whilst conceding that the EC's actions are legal the New Patriotic Party's (NPP) parliamentary leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, told the local press that the law allowed presidents to “create constituencies to favour a particular political party” which was, he said, the NDC's aim in this case.

The NPP's chairman in the UK, Hayford Atta-Krufi, told a London based radio station that the NDC and the EC are “in cahoots” to cheat the Ghanaian people in the forthcoming elections with the creation of the new constituencies, as further evidenced by the GSS withholding the results of the population census for two years.

Article 47(5) of the 1992 Constitution mandates the EC to “review the division of Ghana into constituencies at intervals of not less than seven years, or within twelve months after the publication of the enumeration figures after holding of a census of the population of Ghana, whichever is earlier, as may, as a result, alter constituencies”.

In 2004, the EC increased the number of constituencies from 200 to the current 230. The creation of further constituencies has been expected following the creation of 42 new districts last year.

The Electoral Commission has also announced that, out of Ghana's total prison population of over 13,000, only 476 registered to vote during the recent targeted biometric registration exercise. This fuelled further speculation that some prisoners had deliberately been prevented from registering. The EC continues, however, to deny this and says that the prison service had done everything possible to ensure that all prisoners who could provide the required registration form could participate.

Last year President Mills announced the government's intention to allow prisoners to vote last year, following many years of national debates and pressure from human rights campaigners, after a Supreme Court ruling was backed by the president.

The EC also said that a two-day “mop-up” exercise that took place at 186 registration centres around the country on 9 and 10 June produced an additional 16,487 voters. The Commission decided to allow those who were unable to register the first time round, because of technical and other difficulties, the chance to do so.

For more news and expert analysis about Ghana, please see Ghana Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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