As Dr. Afari Gyan prepares to bow out as the EC boss, there appears to be confusion as to who take over as the Electoral Commissioner.
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
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.