two main onesThe Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance, Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, has urged the two main political parties in the country – the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) to soften their entrenched stands and open up for further discussions on the impending referendum scheduled for December 17.
He said the current situation where the NPP is advising its members to vote ‘Yes’ while the NDC says its members should vote ‘No’ as far as the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) on political party lines is concerned is not the best for the country’s democracy. He says consensus building at the highest level of political party leadership would be in the best interest of Ghana.
“Consensus building is the driving force of every democracy. Let us go into this referendum with a consensus and not a divided front. That is the only way we can achieve success and move forward in this exercise. Ghana needs to move forward,” Dr Akwetey stated.
He said this when he delivered a public lecture in Accra on Tuesday on the theme “The National Referendum on Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution: Is it important?”
It is also his view that the differences in opinion of different groups and people as far as this referendum is concerned is symptomatic to a system of governance which is in order and normal, however, it must not be allowed to derail the gains that have been made so far in the current democratic governance system.
He kicked against any suggestion for a postponement of the referendum as it would take a longer time for the country to get back to where it is now, – ready for a referendum. He said all those putting up a campaign for the postponement of the referendum must halt it immediately.
Making a case why Ghanaians should vote massively for a ‘Yes’, Dr Akwetey said among others that such an opportunity to vote in a major referendum to amend a national constitution comes very rarely in one’s lifetime, hence, the electorate must be given the one-time opportunity to make this happen.
“We can vote and change a government when the time is due, but, a referendum, for amending parts of an entrenched clause in the Constitution can take over a decade for history to repeat itself,” he stated.
He said should the country miss this opportunity to consider this referendum, the future is not clear on how the Constitution would be changed for the better.
He urged the voting public to go for a resounding “Yes” in the referendum to amend Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution to make way for the election of local government authorities along political party lines.
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.’’
The referendum has become necessary because Article 55 is an entrenched provision in the Constitution.