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Challenges of Africans Voting Outside of Their Countries

Challenges of Africans Voting Outside of Their Countries

Abroad Voting “Wahala” – Beyond Politics

When South Africa staged its first democratic, multiracial elections in 1994, a group of Ghanaians, including me, went to South Africa House in Trafalgar Square, London to watch South Africans living in London vote.

We were green with envy; in Ghana’s own first elections under the Fourth Republic Constitution, we had been excluded from the exercise. We hoped then that perhaps the franchise would be extended to us for the next election. However, 1996 came and we were still long-distance spectators in our country’s democracy. Ditto 2000 and 2004. Now, as I understand it, all along, we had the right/privilege to vote but the election machinery had not established any means for us to do so, apart from relocating to Ghana. Therefore, Ghanaians abroad must be following the current debate on the representation bill with bated breath. Simply put, they are very anxious to vote.

I am puzzled that this relatively simple issue has become the subject of such a huge party-political dispute and most Ghanaians abroad, I am sure, will feel the same way. One would have thought that the principle of the thing was a settled issue and that if there was any discussion it would be on the logistics for facilitating the process.

To be honest, I cannot understand why this has to be such a political hot potato because I don’t believe that it will work to any party’s exclusive advantage, as some have alleged. I know many Diaspora people, from all political persuasions, will jump at the opportunity to vote at a venue close to where they live. It would be useful to have a non-party political debate on this issue. My contribution to this discussion is completely apolitical and is inspired by my belief and knowledge that Ghanaians of all parties abroad want to vote.

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Again, as I understand it, all parties agree that the 1992 Constitution allows all Ghanaians who qualify to vote. There is no argument about that and if that is the case, should we not cut the party-political shadow boxing and look at the real issues of logistics and timing? First, about timing, no time is better than now. Ghanaians abroad have wanted to vote since 1992, and Parliament should enable them to do so. There will always be reasons to postpone it, but if we are committed to fulfilling this principle then no time is better or worse than another. Officials from all parties have told Ghanaians abroad that they were committed to fulfilling the two main demands of the Ghanaian Diaspora: voting and dual citizenship. If the principle is right then the time is right as well. Continue Reading Here

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