Ghana leader names new election chief, opposition dismayed


ACCRA (Reuters) – Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo on Monday named lawyer and governance specialist Jean Mensa to head the national electoral commission, dismaying the main opposition party which said Mensa was an unsuitable choice.

FILE PHOTO: Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo listens during a news conference to mark the end of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting at Marlborough House in London, Britain, April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

She replaces Charlotte Osei who was fired by Akufo-Addo last month for “misbehaviour and incompetence,” relating to alleged breaches of Ghanaian procurement laws. Osei denied the accusation.

Until her appointment, announced by the presidency, Mensa headed the Accra-based Institute of Economic Affairs think-tank, organisers of presidential debates ahead of general elections in Ghana.

The West African nation, a major commodity exporter, will hold elections in December 2020, a vote that is likely to be a close contest between Akufo-Addo’s New Patriotic Party and the main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The NDC boycotted the last presidential debate ahead of 2016 elections, accusing Mensa of working in the interests of Akufo-Addo, then leader of the main opposition. She dismissed the accusation.

Reuters was not immediately able to reach Mensa for comment on Monday.

The NDC said it received news of Mensa’s appointment as head of the electoral commission with “shock and disbelief”, alleging that she “is pro-NPP and an avowed anti-NDC”, making her unfit for the position.

“ appoint a known pro-NPP and an avowed anti-NDC person like Mrs Jean Mensa to chair a commission which would organise elections invoking the NPP and NDC as the main contenders defies all senses of decency, fairness and justice,” NDC General Secretary Asiedu Nketia said in a statement.

It also amounts to gross abuse of discretionary powers of appointment vested in him by the constitution of the Republic of Ghana, Nketia said.

Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo, Editing by Ros Russell, William Maclean

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