General News of Tuesday, 3 December 2019
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) government has pooh-poohed claims that the withdrawal of the bill for the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) from Parliament is an abandonment of its campaign promise.
Many including the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) have criticized the move by government to withdraw bills seeking to amend Articles 243(1) and 55(3) of the constitution from Parliament, arguing that the decision was politically motivated.
Deputy Information Minister, Pius Enam Hadzide in a Citi News interview however said, there is enough evidence that government was committed to the cause had it not been for what he describes as the betrayal of key stakeholders that left majority of Ghanaians in a state of complete confusion.
“The process was started, people were brought on board for one reason or the other but people decided to make a U-turn. The history will be fair to the fact that the NPP initiated moves to actualize and implement their manifesto promise. We had gone as far as introducing a bill to Parliament and gazette, by first of all referring it the Council of State for advice. The question had been framed, the Electoral Commission was in the process of organizing the referendum and then the poison, misconceptions, misinformation went into the system. Heightened tension increased poison in the system. So as a listening President, having listened to the people said let us hold on. So, that cannot be interpreted to mean that, the NPP has not fulfilled that promise. Any fair observer will admit. We must be honest enough to understand the circumstances that have led to a halt of the proceeds.”
He further clarified that, although the processes have been put on hold, government is still committed to rallying for the introduction of party politics at the local government level which will see to the election of MMDCEs.
It will therefore come back with the proposal after a thorough scrutiny and better citizen sensitization on the subject matter.
“His Excellency remains committed to that manifesto promise. We may want to do this under a different context. We know that with time, we will have the opportunity to better educate the people on the merits of the solutions that we have offered. We hope that within the shortest possible time, the people will understand and be carried along. At anytime within the President’s tenure, when we are convinced that the consensus has been generated and the people have an understanding, the process will be reactivated and the relevant laws will be amended to allow for the election of MMDCEs, the local government structures with political party participation,” the Deputy Minister added.
Why the withdrawal?
The withdrawal follows an announcement by President Akufo-Addo on Sunday calling for the cancellation of processes to amend the two constitutional provisions over some major controversies surrounding the amendment process that included a scheduled December 17 referendum.
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.
The 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 plan has now landed on rocks because of its massive rejection.
NDC rebukes Akufo-Addo over ‘misguided’ withdrawal of MMDCEs election bill
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) subsequently questioned the Nana Akufo-Addo-led government’s commitment to fulfilling its promise to Ghanaians to elect their MMDCEs.
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 stating that the action was 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.”