The Public Interest and Research Advocacy Network (PIRAN – Ghana) has recommended a meeting by the Electoral Commission (EC) with all registered political parties to take a firm decision regarding the conduct of the 2020 Elections in the face of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The NGO has appealed to the Electoral Commission of Ghana to, as a matter of urgency, convene a meeting with all political parties that matter to think through and fashion out a strategy to help the EC organize the election in the face of COVID-19.
Mr. Felix Djan Foh, President of PIRAN-GH said the proposed meeting could plan a new method of voting such as ‘electronic voting’.
According to PIRAN, the stakeholders could also deliberate on suspending this year’s election till further notice as an option in case the COVID-19 is not contained.
Mr. Djan Foh stressed the point that in a situation of a suspension, there is the need for constitutional considerations to deal with whatever lacuna that will be created to prevent any crisis.
PIRAN believes any preparations in advance to make way for alternatives in time like this is very crucial since coming events, as the sages say, cast their shadows.
He said the risk and implication of holding election 2020 in the face of the ongoing pandemic should be thought through and work out a contingency plan as to how production and distribution of ballot papers can work in the face of this horrifying pandemic and how the prescribe social distance protocols should be adhered to.
The recommendation comes from the fact that the Coronavirus pandemic, which has resulted in partial lockdown, is already having a toll on the socio-economic well-being of the country and the people as church services, schools and other mass gathering among other social activities have already been suspended besides prescribed social distancing protocols aimed at containing and stopping the spread.
The NGO noted that in view of the current development of more recorded cases of COVID-19, the country and the health sector in particular was bound to encounter more social and economic challenges.
The PIRAN head noted that from the surge in the coronavirus infections across the globe and the increase in cases in Ghana as the government vigorously tracks contacts of infected persons for testing, the earlier EC commences discussions about election 2020, the better especially when Election 2020 is only eight months away especially when there is no clear view as to whether the coronavirus disease pandemic will be over any time soon.
“With the partial lockdown, social distancing protocol, fears of further spread and fears of COVID-19 lingering on and when the people would be free to go about normal duties it would not be appropriate and convenient to resume processes for Election 2020.
According to Djan Foh, preparations towards the election are in limbo as aspects of the reparation are suspended until further notice. “This development makes the prospect of the coming election questionable”, he noted.
He has therefore, pleaded with the EC and all stakeholders to start discussions as early as possible and come out with possible alternatives for a smooth running of the country with or without COVID-19.
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