Home » Ghana’s Top Court Rejects Bid to Halt Voter Registration

Ghana’s Top Court Rejects Bid to Halt Voter Registration

by Victor Adetimilehin

Ghana’s Supreme Court has dismissed an injunction filed by the main opposition party and four others to stop the electoral commission from conducting a limited voter registration exercise ahead of the December 2020 elections.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the other parties had argued that the decision by the Electoral Commission of Ghana (EC) to restrict the registration centers to its district offices was unconstitutional and would disenfranchise many eligible voters. The plaintiffs also sought a declaration that the EC could only revise the existing voter register and not compile a new one, as it had announced.

However, when the case was called on Wednesday, October 17, 2023, there was no lawyer or representative for the applicants in court. The EC’s lawyer and deputy chairperson were present. A five-member panel of judges, presided over by Chief Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, struck out the application as withdrawn and awarded costs against the applicants.

The Chief Justice explained that the Supreme Court could not have heard the case earlier, as it does not sit during the legal vacation in August and September, except by a special fiat.

She said the case was fixed for October 17, which was the earliest possible date after the vacation. The EC had conducted the limited voter registration exercise from September 12 to October 2, despite the legal challenge and criticism from some civil society groups and political parties.

The exercise was aimed at registering new voters who had attained the age of 18 or missed out on previous registration exercises. According to the EC, about 1.2 million new voters were registered during the exercise, which it described as successful and peaceful.

The NDC and its allies had accused the EC of bias and incompetence, and alleged that the limited registration was part of a plot to rig the elections in favor of the ruling party.

They had also filed another suit at the Supreme Court challenging the EC’s decision to exclude the birth certificate and the existing voter ID card as valid documents for registration. That case is still pending before the court. The EC has defended its actions as lawful and necessary to ensure credible and transparent elections.

It has also assured all stakeholders of its commitment to conduct free and fair polls in December. Ghana is widely regarded as a model of democracy in Africa, having held seven peaceful and competitive elections since 1992. The upcoming elections are expected to be another close contest between President Nana Akufo-Addo and former President John Mahama, who are both seeking a second term in office.

Source: Graphic Online

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