Amendment of article 55(3) not enough
By Agnes Ansah
On December 17, Ghanaians would head to the polls to amend article 55(3) which bans political parties from engaging in the district level elections to now come to the fore front to participate in it.
As a result, parliament would, on resumption in October 22, take steps to amend article 243(1) before the December 17 poll.
The said article indicates that “There shall be a District Chief Executive (DCE) 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.”
The amendment would then give citizens power to elect their own DCEs.
But the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) has stated that the amendment of article 243(1) by Parliament and the subsequent amendment of 55(3) in the referendum is not enough.
Addressing a news conference in Accra yesterday, Mr William Dowokpor, First Vice Chairman of the party, said that Ghanaians can’t go to the referendum without the amendment of other related articles such as 242(d) and 243(3) of the 1992 Constitution, in addition to 55(3) and 243(1).
Article 242(d) allows the government to appoint 1/3 of the members of the Assembly.
Mr Dowokpor said that this article must be amended to allow for the election of all members of the assembly.
“We cannot have a partisan election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and the assembly members elected by universal adult suffrage, and allow the President to appoint not more than 30% of all the members of the district assembly.”
The power of the President to appoint 30% of the assembly members in the old order was undemocratic, and it would be democratic sacrilege to allow any president to have the opportunity to dilute the members of an elected assembly, properly elected by people, he said.
Article 243(3)(b) also deals with the appointment and removal of MMDCEs. The article currently gives the President the power to sack an MMDCE.
This, the PPP First Vice Chair posited that if the President doesn’t not have the power to appoint an MMDCE, then why retain the power for him to sack a DCE?
Mr Dowokpor, therefore, called on the Local Government Minister and Parliament to take the necessary steps to amend the aforementioned articles before the December 17 poll.
If these articles are not amended, the President would still have powers to interfere in the local assemblies, which would render the referendum useless, he pointed out.
But if these amendments are done, it would help the citizenry to appreciate the district level election better, and even deal with the low voter turnout that mars the exercise every four years, he opined.
“If they don’t amend other ones such as 242 and 243 and others, then they will just allow parties to sponsor candidates, but the mandate for the citizens to elect their MMDCES won’t be there.”
Mr Dowokpor said that the PPP was aware of the roadmap for the referendum which has put most of these amendments after the referendum.
He called on the Minister to make the amendment before the referendum, because the PPP cannot trust that the amendments would be done after the referendum.
“The roadmap is not satisfactory and transparent enough. It leaves a lot of the proposed amendment as regards the related legislation to after the referendum, so our campaign is to ask them to put all the proposed amendments on the table so that before we go and vote yes, we know comprehensively what we are voting for.”
He said that the PPP was in full support of the election of MMDCEs on partisan lines, as it has always made it clear in its 2012 and 2016 manifesto, and even believes has brought the country to its current level now.
But the PPP wants other articles to be amended, and urged Ghanaians to be vigilant and ask the relevant questions before they go to the polls on December 17.