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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Opposition reads mischief in plan to allow Ghanaian prisoners to vote

Opposition reads mischief in plan to allow Ghanaian prisoners to vote

Opposition reads mischief in plan to allow Ghanaian prisoners to votePresident John Atta Mills. Photo | FILE |

By FRANCIS KOKUTSE in AccraPosted Sunday, November 13 2011 at 17:03

A section of Ghanaian opposition leaders is opposed to a proposal by President Atta Mills to allow Ghanaian prisoners to vote.

Commissioning a new prison facility in the central region of Ghana last Friday, President Mills said that prisoners should be allowed to vote indicating that convicts would cast their votes in next year’s elections. But some opposition activists think the government is turning to the prisoners to boost president's numbers.

Central regional secretary of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) Mr Kwabena Duncan opposed the proposals accusing President Mills of hinging his hopes on the votes of prisoners to retain power to avoid defeat in the 2012 elections.

On their part, President Mills’ officials have dismissed these claims by the opposition saying, the president's decision is in line with the Supreme Court’s ruling that, inmates have the right to vote during elections.

Logistical nightmare

According to the opposition, allowing prisoners to vote should only apply in presidential election but not at the parliamentary poll. This is because, voting for parliamentarians take place in the Constituencies and it is not clear how the Electoral Commission would provide the facilities across the country’s numerous prisons for over 230 constituencies.

In addition, Mr Duncan is making further demands on the EC that is likely to create more problems. He said, if the prisoners are to be allowed to vote, there is the need for political parties to have unlimited access to the prisons to campaign.

The opposition leader also wants Ghanaians living outside the country to be allowed to vote. In Mr Duncan’s view, Ghanaian living outside the country are even more important than prisoners.

The Diaspora

Under Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution, voting is considered both a right and a responsibility. "Every citizen of Ghana of sound mind has the right to vote and entitled to be registered as a voter for the purpose of public elections and referenda," argues Mr Duncan drawing attention to the significant contributions that Ghanaian citizens living abroad are making to the country's economy.

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