Sunyani, Aug. 13, GNA – Parliament has been urged to accelerate the amendment of the most critical of the 97 provisions in the 1992 Constitution identified by the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) to ensure peace during the 2016 General Election.
Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director of Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), who made the call, said: ‘We have to impress on Parliament on the importance of the Constitutional amendment for not all the 97 provisions identified but those that would ensure peaceful Election 2016.’
‘Their decision is important to defuse tension,’ he said, ‘If tension heightens higher during Election 2016 than that of Election 2012, we are doomed’.
Dr Akwetey made the call at the Fourth Regional Campaign on proposals for Multi-Party Governance (MPG) and Constitutional Reforms in Sunyani, on Tuesday.
It is being organized nation-wide by IDEG, Civic Forum Initiative (CFI) and Partners, National Peace Council, National House of Chiefs, Manhyia Palace, STAR-Ghana, State of Union (SOTU), IBIS and media partners.
The proposals are to help strengthen the hybrid system of multi-party governance, which has so far been the most stable and peaceful in Ghana’s post-colonial history.
These include reforms to devolve the monopolized power of the executive to local governments or assemblies through popular and party-based election for the MMDCEs, popular and party-based elections of assembly members and the introduction of a mixed member proportional representation system at the district assembly level for minority and marginalized groups.
The second proposal is strengthening national interest institutions to act professionally and impartially, to address the growing public mistrust of the ability of State institutions.
The third proposal seeks to reform the election system, which has an overload of elections during the four-year period – these are four to six elections taking place almost at the same time.
These include presidential, parliamentary, district level and political party elections, involving polling station, constituency, regional and national officers, parliamentary candidates and flag bearers.
The country is perpetually caught up in political campaigning causing heightened tension and increasing the threat of violence, which leaves little space and time for the parties to think through and solve the problems of the country.
Consequently, public policies become poorly implemented and ineffective, increasing poverty and developmental challenges.
The fourth proposal is to reform political parties because they have become election machines, paying little attention to the formulation of public policies to effectively address development problems.
There is no time to engage in developmental discourse, he said, while manifestoes are ad-hoc and unrealistic with party financing being weakly regulated and hardly accountable.
Dr Akwetey pointed out that issues pending before the current Parliament cannot be carried over to the next Parliament, which has to begin the entire process to its logical conclusion.
He explained that the Constitutional Review Process ended in November 2011 but could not continue because the level of threats during Election 2012 heightened higher than that of Election 2008, while the eight months Election Petition in 2013 delayed the deliberations on the amendments by Parliament.
Dr Akwetey noted that the campaign is to close the gaps in the constitution because the hybrid system of democracy has been relatively peaceful but since Election 2008 been volatile, hence the need to manage elections in the country.
He said the system, which has been most stable have some operational and structural problems, which ought to be solved with amendments in the constitution.
Dr Akwetey explained that political stability and efforts to secure it is primary and the country’s stability is not well secured because the frustrations in the society could generate into violence during elections.
‘We have to make choices to maintain peace,’ he said. ‘As a people, we can only solve the problems when we understand them’.
The Reverend Dr Fred Deegbe, Former General Secretary of Christian Council of Ghana, said the process for constitutional review had gone well but the way forward is not clear.
He pointed out that Ghana is not for politicians alone so all and sundry must make her prosperous.
Rev. Deegbe noted that there should be institutionalized structures for democracy to thrive but the country has a huge challenge to change attitude, mindset, behaviour and the ‘pull him down’ syndrome.
Professor Daniel Obeng-Ofori, Pro Vice-Chancellor of the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), said it is only civil society that can help shape democratic governance in Ghana.
He said the problem is mistrust and called for a change, which the politicians will not pursue but civil society would.
‘People do not trust anyone in Ghana now. There is deep mistrust and there is the need to reform it.’
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