Dr Awudu Ahmed Gumah, Head, Planning, Research, Monitoring and Evaluation, ECOWAS Gender Development Centre, on Tuesday postulated that Political Parties should fund the implementation of external voting for Ghanaians abroad.
"We vote for Political Parties to come to power, you see the kind of lifestyle they live in, so the Electoral Commission should task the parties to pay more for funding external voting, since we vote for them.
"They should be tasked to pay for the cost of the implementation of the Representation of the People Amendment Act (ROPAA) 2006 (Act699), which gives the right to vote from abroad," Dr Gumah stated at Dakar, Senegal during a ROPAA consultation.
The ROPAA Committee in fulfilment of its mandate, is in Dakar, Senegal, to engage with strategic institutions including the 'Commission Electorale Nationale Autonome' (CENA); 'Ministere de L'Interieur'; the Ghanaian Community and other strategic institutions
Dr Gumah explained that the parties should be innovative in fund raising and mobilization of resources as the state alone should not foot the cost of ROPAA implementation, which is considered expensive.
Others also suggested that, the Diaspora Community should be encouraged to contribute a token towards the ROPAA Implementation.
However, Mr John Boadu, General Secretary of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP); Mr Elvis Afriyie Ankrah, Director of Elections of the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) who stood-in for Dr Benjamin Kumbuor; and Mr Kofi Akpaloo, Founder and Leader of the Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG), representing the other minority parties without representation in Parliament, opposed the suggestion.
Mr Boadu noted that such a financial burden would be eventually transferred to the party members; stressing that "Political Parties are made up of members so, to task parties to fund the ROPAA implementation means that the cost will go to the members".
Mr Afriyie Ankrah explained that the political parties already incur lots of cost, and if the decision is taken for the implementation of ROPAA, the parties would have to send personnel to overseas to train and build their capacity in the electoral process, saying that, these are all cost.
"Running a political party in Ghana is not cheap, its expensive, it is monies we don't have, so we must be careful not to impose additional cost on the parties," he said.
Dr Bossman Eric Asare, EC Deputy Chairman, in-charge of Corporate Services, who doubles as ROPAA Committee Chairman, explained that, in parliamentary elections in Ghana, any party that gets more than 12 per cent of the vote, would have its filing fees refunded.
"The two major parties, the NDC and NPP, they always get more than 12 per cent... so they get their monies back, but the small parties like the LPG and others don't get anything. It is the law, these things, as our democracy grows, we must take a second look at it again.
"In spite of that, I think generally the parties have done well, anytime the EC is conducting any activity the political parties send representatives around to monitor, and these are institutions that are not income generating entity...may be the parties must also begin to educate their members on why they should contribute financially," Dr Bossman Asare stated.
Mr Akpaloo also described aspects of the political parties' law as unfair to smaller parities "the bigger parties, who are already well resourced gets a refund of their filling fees after election whilst the smaller parties who struggle through election losses their filling fees. "The law must be fair to all parties".
The meeting, which was chaired by Mrs Gloria Poku, Ghana's Ambassador to Senegal, was attended by influential Ghanaians in Senegal and the Gambia, representatives of political parties, Civil Society Actors, as well as officials from the embassy.
The implementation of ROPAA requires that the Commission puts together regulations, in the form of a Constitutional Instrument (CI), to regulate the registration of voters and the conduct of elections in foreign countries.
At the end of the work of the ROPAA Committee, a technical group would be constituted to draft regulations for external voting, then it would eventually be passed into a CI by Parliament by the close of December 2019.
It would be recalled that following advocacy by interest groups, a Bill was introduced in Parliament in 2006, the Representative of the People Amendment Bill (ROPAB) to amend the representation of the People's Law of 1992 PDNC Law 284.
The PNDC Law 284 did not make provision for Ghanaian citizens other than persons working in Ghana's diplomatic missions, persons working with international organisations of which Ghana is a member and Ghanaian students on Government scholarship, to be registered in the countries where they reside.
The ROPAA, Act 2006, ACT 699 was therefore passed to extend the right of the Ghanaian to participate in voting in public elections and referenda to Ghanaians living outside Ghana.
By Francis Ameyibor, GNA Special Correspondent, Dakar Senegal