Ghana has justified its decision to embark on a voter registration exercise and conduct the 2020 general elections despite the outbreak of the deadly novel coronavirus in the country.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in addressing the nation a night before the beginning of the registration exercise by the Electoral Commission said the registration and conduct of the elections this year is non-negotiable.
“We must vote on 7th December 2020,” declared.
He argued in the Monday night address that the country’s 1992 constitution “makes no provision for the extension of the mandate of the President…beyond four years” for which reason, the December 7 elections cannot be put on hold or pushed forward.
“That is not possible,” he stated.
The president said to exercise executive power in Ghana, one must be duly elected by the people, saying “you must have their freely-expressed consent.
“On 7th January 2021, when my mandate as the current President expires, a duly elected person must be ready to be sworn in as President of the Republic,” he stated.
He said going ahead with the conduct of the presidential and parliamentary elections will “forestall any needless constitutional controversy” that is likely to “throw our nation into jeopardy”.
Nana Akufo-Addo has meanwhile asked Ghanaians not to be alarmed by the decision to conduct the voter registration exercise and the elections amidst the pandemic as adequate measures have been put in place.
He referred to other nations which have amid the COVID-19 pandemic are holding elections “properly”
“In Asia, we have witnessed the conduct of the successful elections of South Korea in April, at the height of the pandemic in that country. In Europe, last week, we have seen those of Poland; and, in our continent of Africa, both Mali and Malawi have preceded us in organising successful, national elections.
“Surely, it is not beyond Ghana to join these nations in organising a successful general election, even amid the pandemic,” he said.
Ghana, he said, has chosen to abide by the tenets of multiparty democracy and the principles of democratic accountability, something he noted “we dare not trade them off” especially during times of crisis as we find ourselves in
As a safety measure, he said, all the 33,327 polling stations across the country where the voter registration will be conducted will have in place the necessary and elaborate protocols.
“Additionally, I want to remind all Ghanaians that all the other protocols and restrictions, especially those dealing with large gatherings, must be adhered to and enforced at the polling stations at all times,” he advised.
The president urged all eligible Ghanaians to ensure they register to vote in the elections irrespective of their political colour.
“Using your God-given and constitutional rights costs nothing, but staying home can come at a very steep price. The pandemic, notwithstanding, we have to strengthen Ghanaian democracy.
“It must be our collective duty to ensure that we have a register that is fit for purpose in December, and we must all make sure that persons who do not meet the requirements, as set out clearly in the Constitution, do not find their names into the register,” he urged.