President Akufo Addo engaged stakeholders before calling off Referendum

Kodjo Adams, GNA

Accra, Dec. 2, GNA –
Dr Kwesi Jonah, a Senior Research Fellow of the Institute for Democratic
Governance (IDEG), Monday said the President had consultations with key
stakeholders to elicit their opinions before announcing the decision to call
off the December 17 Referendum.

They included
representatives of civil society organisations, religious bodies and Chiefs.

Speaking to the
Ghana News Agency in an interview on the issue, Dr Jonah said it was clear at
the meeting that there was a weak national consensus on the issue, therefore,
it was prudent for the Government to cancel it to allow for a much broader
discussion on the issue.

Even though money
had been spent to educate the citizenry on the Referendum, the senior lecturer
in Political Science said, the ballot paper could still be used in the future
because no date had been printed on it.

However, the country
had missed the opportunity to reform its democratic governance by electing
Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCES) because of the
internal wrangling among political parties and section of the populace, he

“I was not
disappointed with the President’s decision because we need a national consensus
for the amendment of Article 243(1) and Article 55(3) of the Constitution to be
fully operational,” he explained.

The amendment of
Article 243(1) of the 1992 Constitution as planned would have allowed for the
election of MMDCES.

This requires the
assent of two-thirds of the Members of Parliament, while the Referendum on
Article 55(3) would have decided whether political parties should be allowed to
participate in local government elections or not.

Dr Jonah said it
would have been difficult to get the required approval of two-thirds of the
Members of Parliament to amend article 243(1), without the approval of the

Akufo-Addo, on Sunday, December one, in a national televised address, said he
had directed Hajia Alima Mahama, the Minister of Local Government and Rural
Development to abort the processes and withdraw the two Bills before

He explained that he
assumed office nearly three years ago, with the firm conviction emanating from
the campaign and national discussions, that there was a national consensus for
the two amendments to the country’s governance system, which would enhance its
effectiveness and accountability.

Therefore, on
Tuesday, April 18, 2017, he had a meeting with his predecessors: Former
Presidents Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor, and John Dramani Mahama,
at Jubilee House, to seek their views and counsel on the referendum issues.

There was a
consensus among them to elect MMDCES, the President said.

President Akufo-Addo
said, therefore, he was surprised that the main opposition party, the NDC, made
a U-turn, and said the party was no longer prepared to go along with the
national consensus, indicating that they will actively campaign for a ‘No’

The New Patriotic
Party, the National Democratic Party and the Progressive People’s Party in
their 2016 manifestos pledged to initiate the necessary actions to ensure the
election of MMDCES.

But about two months
ago, national opinion on the issue became divided, with a section calling for
the suspension of the process to ensure broader consultation for consensus,
another called for the truncation of the process, stating multiparty politics
in local government would  further
polarise the nation.

Another school of
thought called for the process to go through, arguing that it would cure the
‘winner takes all’ system, which often distress the minority political parties;
and also deepen democracy and good governance.  

Meanwhile, the
leadership of the NDC has said it would issue a press statement on their
position of the President’s decision.