A referendum was lined up to seek the support of citizens to amend Article 55 of the Constitution, which bans political parties from participating in local level elections and makes such elections partisan.
President Akufo-Addo in a televised address in 2019 called for the withdrawal of the two Bills after he directed the cancellation of the December 17 referendum to amend Article 55(3) which was to allow political parties to file candidates for district-level elections.
“It is with deep regret that I have given instructions to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development…to abort the process and see to the withdrawal of the Bills for the amendment of the Constitution, both in respect of Article 243(1) and Article 55(3),” the President said.
The Bill was accordingly withdrawn following the approval of Parliament.
The appointment of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) is done by the President with the prior approval of not less than two-thirds majority of members of the assembly present and voting at the meeting.
The scheduled electoral process was to change that system but it was hit with a major blow when the opposition, National Democratic Congress (NDC) as well as other stakeholders started advocating for a ‘NO’ vote in the referendum.
The party argued that it was only worried that an amendment to Article 55 (3) will open district assemblies and unit committees to “the needless NDC-NPP polarisation.”
The opposition to the move by the president, according to the Upper East Regional Chairman of the NPP, Anthony Namoo, meant that Ghanaians weren’t ready for a constitutional review.
“I think that Ghanaians are not ready for constitutional amendments. This is a president who was ready to cede the power to appoint over 200 MMDCEs. We refused it,” he told Mark Smith on A1 Radio’s Day Break Upper East Show.
Lawyer Namoo, explained that whether the election was to be on partisan basis or not, “it was power the president was giving out so that there are these kinds of checks and balances.”
The Regional Chairman of the NPP, using Nigeria as an example, explained that the move by the president, if it succeeded, would have meant that residents would get to choose their own leaders at the district level. Lawyer Namoo stressed that “democracy has to evolve. Leaders must be chosen from the grassroot.”
Source: A1radioonline.com|101.1MHz|Mark Kwasi Ahumah Smith|Ghana