The President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, has urged Ghanaians in the diaspora to make a strong case to the Electoral Commission (EC) to implement the Representation of the People Amendment Law (ROPAL) passed in 2006.
He said the directive issued by the Supreme Court in its ruling on the 2012 Presidential Election Petition to the EC to make reforms in its operations, provided a good opportunity for Ghanaians living abroad to forcefully put their case before the EC to extend voting rights to them.
Initially, the EC attributed its inability to implement the law to lack of funds, but the President stated that the government should be able to provide funds for the exercise if the EC decided on the implementation.
The President was speaking during a meeting with the Ghanaian community in Worcester, Massachusetts, in the United States of America last Saturday.
One of the Ghanaians had asked when the law was going to be implemented.
Mr Mahama’s statement drew loud applause from the large number of Ghanaians who had gathered at the St Spyridon Cathedral Hall in Worcester for the over two-hour meeting.
On February 24, 2006, Parliament passed the Representation of the People’s Amendment Bill.
ROPAL allows Ghanaians living abroad to exercise their franchise in general elections conducted in Ghana.
The President, who had been in the United States since last week attending the 69th UN General Assembly, took the opportunity to visit Massachusetts to interact with his countrymen and women.
It was the first time a sitting Ghanaian President had visited the area to meet the people, and the Ghanaians were very appreciative of the visit.
On another question about corruption in Ghana, President Mahama said it had been a very difficult phenomenon to deal with.
This was because the institutions that were supposed to deal with the problem were weak, allowing people to have a leeway.
Notwithstanding this, he said he had taken steps to bring some sanity in the system, mentioning for instance the reforms introduced in public procurement.
“I have reduced sole sourcing and taken steps to introduce technological application in procurement,” he said.
The GYEEDA case in which some government officials were facing prosecution was also a testimony of his resolve to tackle corruption with all seriousness.
Nonetheless, the President believed fighting corruption was the responsibility of all and not only him. “I have the will to fight it but I need the support of all to fight it.”
He restated his position that the economic structure of the country as an exporter of primary products and importer of manufactured products was the major reason for the economic challenges.
That was why the government was working hard to reverse the situation.
President Mahama disclosed that two gold refineries – one by a foreign investor and the other by the Precious Mining Minerals Company ( PMMC) – were to be established in Ghana soon.
PMMC would supply refined gold to the local market while the other would look at the external market.
He said the discovery of oil did not mean Ghana’s problems were over, pointing out that oil was making just a marginal contribution to the economy.
Mr Mahama touched on the numerous development projects his government was undertaking in the country and said they would be pursued with all seriousness to improve the lives of the people.
He said the government was looking for a strategic partner to complete the Apedwa-Suhum section of the Accra-Kumasi road project on a Public-Private Partnership basis.
Waste in public sector
President Mahama said it was unacceptable for public officers to continue enjoying freebies, including utilities, at the expense of the state and said: “We are doing a lot to cut waste.”
The chairman of the Ghanaian community in Worcester, Prof. Kwabena Panford, said the President had demonstrated how he valued his countrymen and women living outside.
He assured the President that they would continue to conduct themselves well in the United States.