A stalwart of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has cautioned the government against plunging the country into a stalemate at the local government level with a ‘Yes’ victory in the December 17 referendum.
Prof Kwamena Ahwoi, who heads a committee of experts that advises the NDC on the upcoming referendum, said Tuesday on Joy FM’s Top Story that a ‘Yes’ victory, which would enable political parties to take part in the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) could create chaos.
“We have to avoid a Brexit situation. When we rush into a referendum, ‘Yes’ and ‘No’, then suddenly we are confronted with all these issues that we have not thought through,” he said on Top Story.
The Brexit situation that Prof Ahwoi is warning against refers to the United Kingdom (UK) referendum in June 2016 to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union (EU).
Although ‘Leave’ won by 52% to 48%, a March 2019 deadline (the original deadline) for Britain to exit the EU was missed.
Countering a government-backed ‘Yes’ campaign on Top Story, Mr Ahwoi said the NDC’s position is that the bill that will enable political party participation in the election of MMDCs should be withdrawn.
“Let us try to reach a consensus. Let us develop a national blueprint, not just on the amendment bill but also on all the consequential matters. If we don’t do that we will find ourselves in a Brexit situation in this country,” he said.
He said the sheer number of MMDCEs – 7,000 of them – and their unit committees, each comprising five members (35,000 unit committee members) could create chaos when they start printing and hanging campaign posters.
But, the Local Government Minister, Alima Mahama, said the call by the NDC for withdrawal of the bill to amend Article 55 (3) and hence the referendum is untenable.
Speaking on Top Story, she said Prof Ahwoi’s suggestions are not founded in law.
“He should tell me the constitutional basis, the law that allows us to now go to the Electoral Commission that the referendum that has gone through all the processes…[should be withdrawn],” she said.
Photo: Hajia Alima Mahama
She also said on Top Story that contrary to the NDC’s claim that there is a deliberate attempt by the government to misinform voters that a ‘Yes’ vote means they can elect MMDCEs, the government made the roadmap clear when it announced the plans for the referendum.
“There is no mis-campaign or misinformation. The whole process of the referendum started with the discussion of election of MMDCEs. And the Ministry of Local Government prepared a roadmap on this matter and government took a decision that, we have to move towards election of MMDCEs on partisan basis and I shared the roadmap with everybody, I had two different media encounters, we had regional sensitisations, all parties were invited, we had national sensitisation, we met with party people and in the roadmap we stated that the first step towards electing our MMDCE is amendment of Article 55(3) of the 1992 constitution.