EC halts preparations for referendum, focuses on district level election

With the controversial referendum out of the way, the Electoral Commission (EC) says it is focused on running a successful district-level election slated for December 17, 2019.

The EC was hoping to organise three separate elections on December 17 including the referendum which sought to seek the approval of Ghanaians to amend Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution to allow political parties to sponsor candidates for local level elections.

But President Nana Akufo-Addo cancelled the referendum and also directed for the withdrawal of the Article 55 (3) Amendment Bill from Parliament as well as Article 243 (1) which was to allow Ghanaians to vote for their Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).

Speaking to, Deputy Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Dr. Eric Bossman Asare, said the Commission has discontinued preparations for the referendum.

“We have our district-level elections and so that is what we are going to run. The referendum is not stated in the Constitution that the Electoral Commission must have it on a said date. It is sponsored by government, so if the government brings a letter to us that they no longer want to pursue it, we have district level elections which we are doing on 17th December. So, we will discontinue the preparations for the referendum and focus on the district level elections,” he added.

Private legal practitioner and former Member of Parliament for the Zebilla Constituency Mr. John Ndebugri had earlier indicated that even the decision to call off the referendum was no longer within the power of the Executive or Legislature.

“The referendum cannot be withdrawn or postponed. If a decision is taken to amend an entrenched clause of the 1992 constitution, the government will publish the intention in the gazette six months in advance and then lay the Bill before Parliament for the House to refer it to the Council of State. The Council will consider the proposal and advice for or against. Then it goes back to Parliament for the Electoral Commission to put the question before the nation through a referendum. We have passed through all that and so the matter is no longer within the ambit of the Executive. It is even not within the powers of Parliament because it is now with the Electoral Commission.”

But the Deputy EC Commissioner downplayed such assertions saying: “The law is not science where you put A and B together and get C so the lawyers have different interpretations. When you read the law, you will understand it differently, the lawyers themselves don’t agree and we the Electoral Commission do not care about that one, we are doing what we have to do,” he added.

The District Assembly and Unit Committee elections comes off on December 17, 2019.

On the said day, the Electoral Commission will conduct two elections consisting of Assembly Members and Unit Committee Members.

The elections of the Assembly Members and the Unit Committee Members form the critical core of the country’s decentralisation process.

They help in exercising political and administrative authority in the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies, provide guidance, give direction to, and supervise the other administrative authorities in local assemblies.

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