Political parties have endorsed the upcoming national referendum in December this year towards the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assembly Chief Executives aimed at deepening the country’s democratic governance.
The 17 of December 2019 has been earmarked as the day for the referendum to seek public approval for the amendment of Article 55(3) of the constitution to pave way for the election of these Chief Executives to administer local assemblies in accordance with the governing NPP’s 2016 manifesto pledge.
The governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) led by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, pledged in their manifesto for the 2016 elections to cause the election of MCEs and DCEs when they get political power. Some political watchers are of the view that the latest move by the government to amend the constitution is a demonstrable commitment by the President to redeem the pledge.
The amendment of Article 55(3) of the constitution will open up the local government system to allow political parties to fully engage in elections at the local level currently prohibited by the country’s laws.
In furtherance of this agenda, the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) and the Civic Forum Initiative (CFI), with support from STAR Ghana and the Embassy of Denmark in Accra, have organized national dialogue dubbed Public Conversation On “Reforms, Benefits, Costs and Participation: MMDCEs Elections and the 17 December 2019 National Referendum”.
The programme which was held at the forecourt of the IDEG House at East Legon on Wednesday, October 2, brought together government officials, political parties, Civil Society Organizations, the academia and the media to the discussion table to have a conversation about the changes which portend to reform the country’s democratic space.
The Executive Director of IDEG, Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey, in his opening remarks at the programme observed that the upcoming referendum which is the second in the country since the 1992 constitution was promulgated, is a unique opportunity which will further push the country’s democratic development to another level.
“We hope that you will go back and talk about this referendum. We should not just be confined to whether we want parties in there or not. It is actually taking us to another level of our democratic development. It is an opportunity that if we miss, it will take us a long time to get it back,” he said.
Representatives of political parties present, including the NPP, NDC, CPP, PNC, PPP, GCPP, LPG, APC among others all pledged to lend their support for the conduct of a successful referendum and to rally their people for a “YES” vote.
However, the largest political party in opposition, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) was skeptical about the fairness of the electoral processes which will lead to the eventual outcome of the referendum and has therefore called on stakeholders to be interested in both the outcome of the referendum as well as the electoral processes leading to it.
According to the Deputy National Youth Organizer of the NDC, Eric Edem Agbana, who represented the General Secretary at the programme, the party has reason to believe that the electoral processes leading to the just gone by regional based referendum for the creation of the new regions were compromised by the Electoral Commission and can therefore not trust that the EC will do any better.
“The Electoral Commission and its activities cannot be excluded from this process. Not too long ago, we had one referendum which decided the creation of new regions. We believe as a party and we still strongly hold the view that the processes were compromised, the elections were compromised.” He said.
He said the registration of members and the exhibition of the register and the conduct of the election is critical to the process and therefore urged the stakeholders to go beyond the outcome of the elections and also show interest in the processes leading to any elections in the country.
Source: Clement Akoloh||africanewsradio.com