The Upper West Regional director of the Electoral Commission (EC), Mr. Ali Osman has called on the general public to support and encourage women and persons with disabilities (PWDs) to put themselves up to be elected to the district assemblies. He suggested that, “all sociocultural barriers must be broken to encourage them (women and PWDs) to fully participate in the elections”.
According to the regional EC commissioner, the low level of representation by women and persons with disabilities is a worrying situation which needs to be checked. He said despite the meaningful contributions women can make in national development and the democratization process, they have not seen more opportunities as “only a handful of women and PWDs are either elected or appointed to the District Assemblies”. He further disclosed that, “the highest nationwide percentage of women’s representation over the years is 10%, recorded in 2006”.
Mr. Ali Osman also bemoaned the low voter turnout as one of the major challenges facing District Level Elections (DLE) in Ghana. Even though the DLE are expensive to organize, Mr. Ali noted that citizens barely actively participate in them which he attributed to apathy towards the local level elections. “Historically, the highest turnout of 59% was recorded in 1988/1989 District Level Elections”, he revealed. Since this turnout about 30 years ago, there has not been any election at the district level that has a turnout of 40%.
The Regional EC boss was speaking at the Regional Launch of Public Education and Awareness Raising Campaign on the upcoming District Level Elections and the Referendum for the Amendment of Article 55(3) of the 1992 Republican Constitution of Ghana held at the Regional Library, Wa – Upper West Region on Friday, October 11, 2019.
The campaign which is a joint initiative of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), the Information Services Department (ISD) and the Electoral Commission, with funding from the Ministry of Local Governance and Rural Development seeks to whip interest in the electorates to participate in the forthcoming District Level Elections scheduled for 17th December, 2019.
The regional director of the NCCE in her opening address said the campaign is very necessary as 40%, at least, of total voters on the register is required to decide the referendum, and the amendment of article 55(3) will be effected with the approval of 75% of the turnout. Considering the below 40% turnout at DLE over the years, she noted it is imperative to educate the general public on what the December 2019 elections entail so that they can turn up and make an informed decision.The Regional Minister, Dr. Hafiz Bin Salih who declared the campaign duly launched pledged government’s support in seeing to a successful District Level Elections and a Referendum. He said government has already done its part to make the referendum a success, and that, “it is up to us as citizens to turn out in our numbers to vote YES for the amendment.” Hon Bin Salih therefore urged the general public to continue disseminating the information about the referendum so that majority of the population will see the need to turn out on the 17th of December, 2019 and vote in the DLE and the Referendum.
All political parties at the campaign launch pledged their support to ensuring that the amendment of article 55(3) is made possible. The amendment to this article will allow for multiparty politics at the local level where MMDCEs, assembly members and unit committee members will be elected on partisan bases.
Meanwhile, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) through their regional organizer, Issahaku Nuhu Putiaha, called on the Electoral Commission and the government to provide a credible referendum that will be accepted by all. The party said though they support the referendum and will campaign for its success; the will of the people must be respected and therefore cautioned government and the electoral body against manipulating the result of the referendum in any way.