The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has questioned the Nana Akufo-Addo-led government’s commitment of fulfilling its promise to Ghanaians to elect their Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).
It follows government’s withdrawal from Parliament two bills intended to amend Articles 243(1) and 55(3) of the Constitution that bother on the election of MMDCEs and making local level elections partisan after the directive by the President following the cancellation of the December 17 referendum.
A statement signed by the NDC’s General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia indicated that they were deeply concerned that the President decided to withdraw the MMDCEs’ election bill and suspended the controversial referendum.
The party further described the decision as “misguided.”
“The withdrawal of the Amendment Bill on Article 243(1) is completely unnecessary and brings into question the President’s commitment to his campaign promise to make the position of MMDCEs elective. It is violation of a key manifesto promise of the NPP and exposes the fact that President Akufo-Addo’s much-touted pledge to make the position of MMDCEs elective has been a quid pro quo all along.”
The NDC further accused the NPP of betraying Ghanaians adding that, the withdrawal of the bills was a clear sign that the governing party was only interested in taking the citizenry for granted.
“Above all, the withdrawal of the Constitution Bill to amend Article 243(1) amounts to denying Ghanaians their wish to have MMDCEs elected only because the President could not have his way to make district level elections partisan. This smacks of a betrayal of the trust of Ghanaians and further underscores the deceptiveness of President Akufo-Addo and the NPP.”
The referendum was to decide on the amendment of Article 55(3) of the Constitution to enable political parties to sponsor candidates for local level elections while the amendment of Article 243(1) was to allow for the election of MMDCEs.
Per Article 243 (1) of the 1992 Constitution, District Chief Executives for every district are to 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 New Patriotic Party (NPP) government commenced processes to have that changed as it promised in its 2016 manifesto to take away the powers of the President to appoint MMDCEs and make it possible to have them elected by universal adult suffrage.
But the process was hit with a major blow when the opposition, National Democratic Congress (NDC) as well as other stakeholders started advocating for a ‘NO’ vote in the referendum.
The party argued that it was only worried that an amendment to Article 55 (3) will open district assemblies and unit committees to “the needless NDC-NPP polarisation.”
The NDC’s flagbearer, John Mahama also backed his party’s position suggesting that an amendment of Article 243(1) of the constitution was more necessary.
Divisions in Parliament
Parliamentarians were divided over the withdrawal of the Bills on Monday.
The Minority insisted that the President could not simply order the withdrawal of the Bill because it was “not ordinary.”
“An extraordinary bill of this nature cannot be removed simply in that process,” the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu said.
But the Majority Leader, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu said the Bill for the amendment of Article 55(3) could be withdrawn at any stage in Parliament and was constitutional contrary to the views of the Minority.
“Regardless of the process, the Bill for the amendment of Article 55(3) is still here in Parliament and at any stage in the process of passage, the member, in this case, the minister who introduced the Bill in Parliament is clothed with the authority to withdraw and that is what she just cited,” he said.