Act 699 – Representation of the People (Amendment) Act 2006 (ROPAA) came about as a consequence of thirteen Ghanaians traveling from the USA, the UK, Denmark, Canada, and Botswana to put human faces to GLAs; and make the case for a broader implementation of Article 42 of the country’s constitution in October 2005. A second delegation made up largely of GLAs from West African countries reinforced the arguments amidst organized internal opposition. Both delegations were led by Dr. Kofi A. Boateng of New York. The group, called Diaspora Vote Committee, raised $40,000 to fund these visits.
If Ghana chooses to be a country of laws that hews to democratic pillars of human rights then it must at the minimum live by the dictates of its 1992 Constitution. Article 42 in Chapter 7 of Ghana’s Constitution – Representation of the People, states that:
“Every citizen of Ghana of eighteen years of age or above and of sound mind has the right to vote and is entitled to be registered as a voter for the purposes of public elections and referenda.”
We note that Article 42 as quoted above does not limit Ghanaians to only those living in Ghana. Since at least some two to three million Ghanaians live abroad, their numbers are not inconsequential and it would be expected that consistent with the country’s constitution, Ghanaians Living Abroad (GLAs) are equally entitled to their rights to be registered to vote in Ghana’s public elections. There have been six Ghana presidential and parliamentary Â elections from 1992 to 2012. None of these have included the extension of the basic human right to vote to GLAs. This includes the elections of 2008 and 2012 which took place after the country’s parliament had specifically passed an amendment to PNDC Law 284 – Representation of the People to extend the vote to GLAs.
The arguments for and against ROPAA have been made and the law has been passed to specifically add:
“A person who is a citizen of Ghana resident outside the Republic is entitled to be registered as a voter if the person satisfies the requirements for registration prescribed by law other than those relating to residence in a polling division.”
The period to renew debates about cost, feasibility, advantages to political parties, etc., has passed with the enactment of ROPAA. The only thing left to be done is its implementation. A seventh national election cannot come and go in 2016 with a continued discrimination against GLAs. Many countries, including at least a dozen in Africa- including Niger, Senegal, and Chad practice overseas voting. Ghana and its Electoral Commission must be forced to join the enlightened democratic world through a redress in Ghana’s Supreme Court.
GLAs must come together to direct and fund a high powered legal case in the Supreme Court. If the Electoral Commission will not do its job, then the highest court of the land must compel it to do so. It is unfortunate that it has to come to a legal battle. GLAs pump billions of dollars in remittances into Ghana’s economy each year. Their hard earned foreign exchange creates a platform for commerce for Ghana. Extending the vote to them would be a natural step to engage them more fully so they in turn would do more for the development of our common asset- Ghana.
The time is now. By the end of 2014, the case should be in the Supreme Court. Join the Progressive Alliance Movement now. Visit the website- pamgh.org to learn more. Contribute your quota of at least $50 now. It is our fight. Some of us have laid the tracks. Let the rest of us run on them to the logical conclusion- GLAs voting in the 2016 elections. We are Ghanaians of at least 18 years and are of sound mind. Let the constitution work for all Ghanaians living in Ghana and abroad as Act 699-ROPAA expects.