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Referendum won’t change anything, suspend it – Abu Sakara

A member of the National Interest Movement, Dr. Abu Sakara is calling for a suspension of the 2019 national referendum which is aimed at allowing political parties to sponsor candidates for local level elections.

There are moves in Parliament for the amendment of Article 55 (3) and 243 (1) of the 1992 constitution.

The December 17 referendum is to enable Ghanaians to decide whether or not they want Article 55 (3) amended to give political parties the green light to participate in local level elections.

Article 55 (3) states that “subject to the provisions of this article, a political party is free to participate in shaping the political will of the people, to disseminate information on political ideas, social and economic programmes of a national character and sponsor candidates for elections to any public office other than to District Assemblies or lower local government units.”

Article 243 (1) on the other hand also states that: “There shall be a District Chief Executive for every district who shall be appointed 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.”

But Article 55 (3) is considered as an entrenched clause hence can only be amended after a massive YES vote in the referendum.

Parliament is currently awaiting the outcome of the December 17 referendum before taking a decision on Article 243 (1) which is not an entrenched clause.

But Dr. Sakara says until Parliament amends Article 243 (1), the referendum may be pointless.

“Our position basically is that the referendum should be stopped. Whether we vote YES or NO, we are not going to get what we want –that is to elect our leaders on partisan lines. Why? Because a ‘YES’ vote seals our fate and a NO vote ensures that perhaps there is no guarantee for it that. Article 243 (1) is there. When you go to Parliament, we need 2/3 majority to amend it. If they refuse to amend it and play political tricks with it, we can’t do anything. So we should stop this referendum until it is passed. Let’s try it and see how it works so that at a later date, we will introduce this partisan thing [in local and unit committee election] if we think it can add value”, he said.

The consequence of YES or NO vote 

The outcome of the referendum will have either of the following outcomes: If the electorate votes YES, the election of MMDCEs, Assembly and Unit Committee Members in the near future will be on a partisan basis.

If they vote NO, then the election of these candidates for the local level elections will be on a non-partisan basis as being practised now.

Arguments surrounding Referendum

The opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) and some members of the National House of Chiefs are advocating for a ‘No’ vote while the governing New Patriotic Party and some civil society organisations are campaigning for a YES vote.

It is on the back of this that the Asantehene at a forum last Friday called for further consultations.

Also, traditional leaders are also divided after the Chairman of the Governance Committee of the National House of Chiefs, Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II disclosed that the posture of the House for a NO vote did not represent the concerted views of the chiefs.

Due to the division in opinions surrounding the December 17 referendum, the Minister for Regional Reorganization and Development, Dan Kwaku Botwe called for broader consultations.

Akufo-Addo to take final decision on referendum soon – Hadzide

President Nana Akufo-Addo is expected to take a final decision in the coming days on whether the December 17 referendum will come off as planned.

According to Deputy Minister of Information, Pius Hadzide, before the President travelled outside the country, he commissioned another round of consultations on the process and he will make a decision on the matter after he receives a report on the consultations.

“This is a listening government. Before the president travelled out of the country, he gave instructions that another round of consultations be carried out to clear out the misconception that has been driven into the system to bring clarity to bear on this issue. There is a referendum slated for the 17th of December, [and] we are proceeding. When the President comes, he will be briefed about the outcome of the consultations and he will take a decision.”

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