This is needless, detestable lowering of the bar – Prof Prempeh to Akufo-Addo over EC jobs

This is needless, detestable lowering of the bar – Prof Prempeh to Akufo-Addo over EC jobs

Pulse.com.ghMar 24, 2023 10:45 AM

The Executive Director of Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), professor Henry Kwasi Prempeh has descended heavily on President Akufo-Addo following his latest appointment of three members to the Electoral Commission’s governing board.

This is needless, detestable, perilous lowering of the bar – Prof Prempeh to Akufo-Addo over EC jobs


The revered constitutional lawyer has joined many concerned Ghanaians, including the opposition National Democratic Congress to criticize the appointments as some of the appointees are said to be known loyalists of the governing New Patriotic Party.

The President’s critics accuse him of appointing too many known NPP loyalists to the EC, compromising its independence and credibility.

While swearing in Rev. Akua Ofori Boateng Salima, Ahmed Tijani, and Dr Peter Appiahene as new members of the EC’s governing board, the president justified their appointments, saying election outcome is about those who cast the vote and not those who count or collate the results.

But in a post on his Facebook page on Thursday, March 23, professor Prempeh vehemently disagreed with him, saying the remarks attributed to Akufo-Addo are “disappointingly flippant”.

Below is professor Henry Kwasi Prempeh’s full post:

So why did we bother to make the Electoral Commission “independent” at all? Why not just put, say, the Minister for the Interior in charge of organising our elections and counting the votes? Or better still, if it doesn’t matter who is in charge of counting or collating the results, why not appoint known partisans of the rival party to the EC, since none of them, apparently, can alter the will of the voters! Why then do we need all the watchful eyes and security at counting and collation centers if the voting is the only thing that matters? This remark attributed to you, Sir, is disappointingly flippant. I know you do not, in all good faith, believe that statement, Sir. It is the kind of remark a regrettable decision begets as an afterthought.

Mistrust of and loss of confidence in the impartiality and integrity of the electoral commission has been at the root of many election-related violence and conflicts in Africa, including, notably, Kenya’s post-election violence in 2008. Ironically, two leaders from Ghana, President Kufuor and the late Kofi Annan played memorable roles in the restoration of peace in Kenya after their 2008 election violence. Public and bipartisan faith and confidence in the EC is not a matter to be joked with. If the Framers of our Constitution did not care about partisanship on the Electoral Commission or about the background of persons who got appointed to the Commission, it would not have been necessary to make the Commission an “independent” body at all. And when it comes to independence or partisanship, appearances matter as much as the reality.


It is telling indeed that these latest appointments to the EC were not accompanied by the usual biographical information on the backgrounds of the appointees. What really does the President aim to accomplish by these appointments? What democratic and governance legacy does the President wish to leave behind? Or does leaving behind, for the benefit of present and future generations, a Ghana whose democracy is secured by strong, credible and trusted institutions not a legacy that matters?

Quite apart from trivialising the EC, these kinds of appointments further undermine respect for the Council of State, because, while it is common knowledge that these appointments are not the work of the Council, the Constitution, for whatever it is worth, says they must be made “on the advice of” the Council of State! It is not fair or right for the Council of State to continue to be treated and tarnished this way!

The Framers of the Constitution were indeed sparse and, in hindsight, negligent in their drafting of important portions of the constitutional text. But whatever their sins of omission, they did not intend to create, in appearance or fact, a partisan Electoral Commission. In fact, in the making of appointments to the EC, the Framers, following the 1969 Constitution, intended the President to do so in his nonpartisan capacity and role as Head of State (statesman), not as Head of Government (politician). This also explains why such appointments were to be made on the advice of the Council of State. An expectation of partisan neutrality is, therefore, built, if implicitly, into the constitutional design in relation to EC appointments. Experience, including perverse judicial interpretation of article 70 by the Supreme Court, has, of course, exposed the gaps in the Framers’ sparse drafting. Still, this is no reason why we must take actions that exploit the Constitution’s gaps or weaknesses to further undermine and endanger the peace and stability of our already weak democracy, all in the pursuit of some vain partisanship. We can and must do better. This is a needless, detestable, and perilous lowering of the bar.

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