JUBILEE HOUSE, ACCRA—The battle over which political party will win in the December 17, 2019 referendum may have come to an end following the declaration by the His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa, to support the stance of opposition National Democratic Congress(NDC) against amending article 55/3 to allow political parties to sponsor candidates for election to district assemblies and lower local government units.
This came as the President rescinded his decision to continue with the referendum exercise, saying it has no durable national consensus.
Nana Akufo-Addo Government has abandoned his promised to give away his authority to appoint Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCES), if re-elected by cancelling the December 17 referendum which was meant to decide on an amendment of Article 55 (3) of the Constitution to enable political parties to sponsor candidates during local level elections.
This was announced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in a brief address to the nation on Sunday, December 1, 2019.
The President attributed the decision to the absence of “a durable national consensus” on the matter following consultations.
Whilst the President attributed the decision to cancel the referendum to the absence of “a durable national consensus” on the matter, he did not explain why the Bill to amend Article 243 (1) was also withdrawn despite the fact that it had seeming bipartisan backing.
“In these circumstances, I am convinced that it will not serve the public interest to go ahead with the holding of the public referendum on 17th December even though I believe a strong campaign for a YES vote would have succeeded. This is not the kind of atmosphere in which the repeal of an entrenched provision of the Constitution should take place.”
He also directed the Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Hajia Alima Mahama to withdraw the Bills seeking to amend Articles 55 (3) and 243 (1).
“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 constitutions both in respect of Article 243 (1) and Article 55 (3).”
About December 17th Referendum
The Electoral Commission (EC) had scheduled December 17, 2019, to conduct the referendum to approve the Bill to amend Clause 3 of Article 55 of the 1992 Constitution.
This Bill was to allow political parties to fund candidates for election to district assemblies and lower local government units.
The purpose of the referendum was to see if Ghanaians were in favour of the Bill to amend Clause 3 of Article 55 of the 1992 Constitution or not.
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’’.
Consequently, Parliament was to also amend Article 243 (1) to allow Ghanaians to vote for their Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) instead of being appointed by the President.
Article 243 (1) 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.”