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As Afari-Gyan Closes In On Retirement By June, Who Is Next ?

The search for who becomes the new Chairman of the Electoral
Commission (EC) has begun in earnest, as the current Chairman, Dr Kwadwo
Afari-Gyan, will proceed on his statutory retirement in June.

In
line with this, two political parties and a political pressure group
have called on the Council of State to engage in broader stakeholder
consultations in advising the President on the choice of the next
chairman of the commission.

Accordingly, they have appealed to
President John Dramani Mahama and the Council of State to ensure that
the selection of a new EC boss is done at least in consultation with the
political players.

The parties are the New Patriotic Party (NPP)
and the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), while the pressure group is
Let My Vote Count Alliance (LMVCA).

Relatedly, the National
Democratic Congress (NDC) has expressed the wish that “we should not
turn the appointment of the new EC chair into a partisan battle where
the NDC, NPP, PPP or PNC are struggling and fighting to have their
favourite”.

Who replaces Afari Gyan?

With Dr
Kwadwo Afari-Gyan set to reach his retiring age of 70 in June, civil
society organisations and political parties have already started the
debate within the public space on who takes over from him.

Article
70(2) of the 1992 Constitution maintains: “The President shall, acting
on the advice of the Council of State, appoint the Chairman, Deputy
Chairmen and other members of the Electoral Commission.”

Having
served in his position for over two decades, Dr Afari-Gyan helped the EC
to prepare a new Constitutional Instrument (CI) which had been laid
before Parliament before the conduct of the botched district-level
elections which otherwise would have been conducted on Tuesday, March 3,
2015.

An action against the EC at the Supreme Court by a
Winneba-based fisherman, Benjamin Eyi Mensah, led to the cancellation of
the entire process which had gulped GH¢317 million.

Debate rages on

Daily
Graphic sources indicate that the government has put in place a
programme leading to the appointment of a new EC Chairman to replace Dr
Afari-Gyan, who was born on June 18, 1945.

Meanwhile, two schools of thought have emerged as to who becomes the new EC boss.

While
some governance experts expect the new EC boss to come from outside the
commission, others think that such a person must come from within it.

Those
arguing for an insider to become the new chairman contend that such a
personality would be someone who already has better appreciation of the
problems of the EC and will ensure smooth transition, continuity of
service and have no difficulty steering the affairs of the commission.

Those
in favour of somebody from outside the EC argue that such a person with
a legal background stands a better chance of steering the EC away from
the many land mines that have occasioned its operations over the last
few years, especially after the 2012 elections and the recent botched
district-level elections.

They also contend that the EC appears to
be bogged down by credibility issues and somebody from outside will be
able to win the trust of all stakeholders, including the political
parties, civil society groups and the electorate.

It would be
recalled that early this year the General Secretary of the NPP, Mr
Kwabena Agyei Agyepong, called on the President to undertake widespread
and thorough consultations before appointing a new chairman of the EC.

In
his view, the EC had suffered major setbacks arising from embarrassing
revelations during the election petition at the Supreme Court and the
recent ruling of the Supreme Court which culminated in the cancellation
of the district-level elections.

He stressed that it was important for the commission to win back the confidence of Ghanaians.

Four names emerge

Relatedly, it would be recalled that four names have emerged as potential successors to Dr Afari Gyan.

They
are the Chairman of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry that
inquired into the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Mr Justice Senyo Dzamefe,
who is also a Court of Appeal judge; the Executive Director of the
Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr Emmanuel Akwetey; the
Deputy Chairman in charge of Operations at the EC, Mr Amadu Sulley, and
the Executive Director of the Centre for Democratic Development
(CDD-Ghana), Professor Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi.

But Prof.
Gyimah-Boadi, who felt honoured and flattered to have been linked with
the position, has, however, said he is not interested in succeeding Dr
Afari-Gyan, saying he has a lot on his plate and cannot take up the EC
top job.

Some workers within the EC, in separate interviews with
the Daily Graphic over the weekend concerning who replaces Dr Afari-Gyan
from within the EC, indicated their preference for Mrs Georgina Opoku
Amankwaa, the current Deputy Commissioner in charge of Administration.

They contended that as a person with a legal brain, she was far better placed to be accepted as the new chairman than Mr Sulley.

In
their view, although Mr Sulley had risen through the ranks of the EC
from being Brong Ahafo Regional Director, the Director in charge of
Research, Monitoring and Evaluation to Deputy Chairman in 2012, Mrs
Agyei brought some freshness in continuity to the job and would be
easily accepted.

Justice Dzamefe became a popular name in media circles after he was appointed Chairman of the presidential commission in 2014.

He
was tasked to help Ghanaians understand how a promising Black Stars
team crashed out of the FIFA World Cup in a shambolic and disgraceful
manner and the matters arising thereof.

Firm but jovial when he
needed to calm tensions, the judge was on national television for a
month as top officials in football circles gave testimony at the
commission.

He mockingly told a former Sports Minister: “We will use you as a guinea pig to make our corrections.”

Some
political watchers also note that the EC finds itself in a mess because
of the lack of legal knowledge at the top and since the chairmanship
position is equivalent to that of a Court of Appeal judge, then Justice
Dzamefe looks the most capable for it.

The United States 2015
“Martin Luther King Jr Award for Peace and Social Justice” conferred on
Dr Akwetey is the latest testament to his contribution to governance
issues in Ghana.

Dr Akwetey left academia in Canada to form IDEG
in 2000 as an independent, not-for-profit policy research and advocacy
organisation which has grown to become a notable voice of reason in
public discourse on governance issues.

He served as advisor on the former

Credit: Graphic Online

Kofi Oppong Kyekyeku

I am a Ghanaian Broadcast Journalist/Writer who has an interest in General News, Sports, Entertainment, Health, Lifestyle and many more.

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