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Political pundit Ben Ephson has wondered whether the vetting and prior approval of the Electoral Commission Chair by parliament, as proposed by the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), as one of its plethora of electoral reform recommendations, will be the thing that ensures the EC Chair is not biased or partisan.
The proposals were compiled by a team of experts in the NDC, led by former Chief of Staff Nana Ato Dadzie and Local Government expert Professor Kwamena Ahwoi.
The recommendations were presented at a stakeholder forum held by the party.
The proposed electoral reforms, according to the party, require action by the executive, legislature and bodies other than the EC.
Arguing for the prior parliamentary approval of EC Chair, the NDC said the EC’s critical requirements include independence, neutrality, credibility, transparency and competence and the perception of these requirements, and, therefore, the current mode of appointment “makes the EC appear partisan”, adding: “Representatives of the people must have a hand in their appointment”.
Justifying the proposal, the NDC argued that if the appointment of Supreme Court Justices with similar critical requirements involve prior parliamentary approval, then the appointment of EC Commissioners must not be any different.
The NDC said the Constitution Review Commission (CRC), of which the current EC Chairperson was a member, recommended prior parliamentary approval for the appointment of EC commissioners.
The government White Paper on the CRC Report, the NDC recalled, accepted the recommendation of prior parliamentary approval.
Speaking to Kwame Appiah Kubi on Accra100.5FM’s morning show about the proposal, however, the Managing Editor of the Daily Dispatch said: “If it’s not broken, you don’t fix it”.
“How would you know whether or not a person would perform if two-thirds of parliament approves that person?” he asked, adding: “Since 1992, one of the NPP’s major electoral victories was in 2000”, pointing out: “The Electoral Commission Chair at the time was appointed by the NDC”.
Again, he observed: “In 2016, when the NPP won, the Electoral Commission Chair was appointed by the NDC”.
“So, appointing somebody will not necessarily mean that he/she won’t deliver”, Mr Ephson argued.
In his view, “if the party [NDC] thinks that vetting the EC Chair will satisfy its concerns, well, that is them but I don’t think that parliamentary approval will necessarily ensure the person is a good person”.
Buttressing his argument further, Mr Ephson illustrated: “With the Supreme Court appointments, they do vet them, parliament agrees but we still have people labelling them as Party A or Party B”.
“My problem is that what will the endorsement by parliament [do?]. The endorsement by parliament, is it proof that the EC Chair won’t be biased? I don’t understand the proposal properly”, he told Kwame Appiah Kubi.