|President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo|
President Akufo-Addo has indicated that the time to implement the much talked-about Representation of the People’s Amendment Law (ROPAL) is now.
The law, which was passed under the then New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration headed by President Kufuor, was to enable Ghanaians living abroad to vote during national elections, but its implementation was met with a series of protests by then opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) which happens to be in opposition again today.
It has however, remained in the books since its passage in 2005, with the Electoral Commission (EC) citing lack of resources as its major excuse for not implementing it.
But 12 years down the lane, President Akufo-Addo says, “I believe the time to implement ROPAL is now!”
This was when he was speaking at the Ghana Diaspora Homecoming Summit ‘17’ which began in Accra yesterday and ends on Saturday, July 8.
According to President Akufo-Addo, “Nearly all the countries in West Africa have their citizens abroad voting”, and wondered, “I don’t see why Ghana cannot do the same,” to an electrifying applause from the gathering.
“There is widespread consensus among Ghanaians at home and abroad for the implementation of this law,” he noted, whiles making reference to the case filed against the Electoral Commission by a group of Ghanaians over the non-implementation of the law.
Even though he looks up to the outcome of the suit, the president stated, “I wish to assure you that my government will continue to engage the Electoral Commission and its chairperson, Madam Charlotte Osei, to ensure that whatever is needed to bring the law into effect is done.”
President Akufo-Addo also revealed that “the same process of engagement is being undertaken to review the dual citizens’ law and its effect; the process should conclude soon.”
He has already made good his manifesto promise to establish a Diaspora Relations office at the Office of the President with the appointment of Akwasi Awua Ababio as the director.
Speaking at the event, Chairman of the Planning Committee, Alex Dade said, “We will be dialoguing with government to help formulate a Diasporan engagement policy to guide its relationship with the Diaspora.”
They are also determined to push the EC to implement ROPAL to enable Ghanaians everywhere participate in the electoral process, and intending to also lobby parliament to repeal Act 257 so that no Ghanaian citizen would be barred from holding any public office as a result of dual citizenship.
“We hold the belief that there should be no categorization of Ghanaian citizenship, for example dual or mono,” Mr Dade related, insisting that “all citizens hold the same rights and privileges under the law.”
Members of the Diasporan community have since pledged their support to the Akufo-Addo-led administration’s much acclaimed ‘transformational agenda.’
“We are here to support all your special initiatives like ‘one district, one factory’ and ‘Planting for food and jobs.’ We are here also to invest in the economy and create opportunities for all Ghanaians,” he posited.