The National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) has urged citizens to lobby their Members of Parliament, (MPs’) to help speed up parliament’s proceedings on the amendment of the article 243 (1) of the 1992 constitution.
The Deputy Chairman in charge of Operations for the NCCE, Samuel Asare Akuamoah, made the call at the launch of a public sensitization and awareness raising campaign in the Northern Region on the District Level Elections (DLEs) and Referendum for the amendment of the Article 55 (3) of the 1992 constitution slated for December 17, 2019.
The campaign was to educate and encourage citizens in the region to actively participate in the District Level Elections and Referendum exercises.
It is to facilitate the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) on partisan basis.
Government, in 2017, began a process to make the necessary constitutional, legal and institutional changes required to give effect to its 2016, campaign promise to elect MMDCEs on partisan basis.
However, the election of MMDCEs’ on partisan basis requires the amendment of Article 243(1), which is a non-entrenched provision, and the amendment of Article 55(3), which is an entrenched provision, both of which Parliament is currently considering to pass into law after the referendum.
Mr. Akuamoah, said Article 243 (1) gives, only the President, the power to appoint MMDCEs with two-third majority approval from the Assembly members and that it could be amended with support and approval from MPs in parliament.
He, therefore, urged citizens to encourage their MPs’ to speed up the amendment of the article to help strengthen democratic governance in the country.
Northern Regional Director of the NCCE, Alhaji Abdul Razak Saani, educating participants at the launch, said government had shown its commitment to give citizens the chance to help ensure equal participation of political parties in the elections of their District Assembly members and the Unit Committee members.
He said Article 55 (3) needed to be amended in order to strengthen decentralisation in the country and also enable citizens make informed decisions on who to elect as their preferred leaders.
Alhaji Saani, who also doubles as the Acting Regional Director of the NCCE for the North East and Savannah region added that Article 55 (3) was an entrenched provision and does not allow political party participation in the District Levels Elections but the Article could only be amended with public approval in a national referendum.
Alhaji Saani said at least, 40 per cent or more out of the total registered voters must turn out on the slated date to vote, and out of the 40 per cent, 75 per cent or more must vote in favour of the referendum to enable political parties participate fully in the District Level Elections.
He said over the years, there had been low turnout in the District Level Elections and entreated the participants to collectively help in educating and encouraging other people in their communities to come out massively in their numbers to participate and make the exercise successful.
The Acting Regional Director of the Electoral Commission in the Savannah Region, Johnson Akafia, said the December 2019 District Level Elections and Referendum would require registered voters to vote on three ballots, namely, the Unit Committee Chairs ballot, the Assembly Members ballot and finally the referendum ballot, where citizens would be asked to Vote “Yes” or “No”, for the participation of political parties in the District Level Elections.
District Chief Executive for the West Gonja District, Saeed Muhazu Jibril, speaking on behalf of the Savannah Regional Minister acknowledged that the Assemblies were politicized and urged the citizens to massively vote in favour of the referendum to help strengthen the local government system to bring development closer to them.
The event was attended by various stakeholders including Traditional Authorities, Religious leaders, Representatives from the Ghana Education Service, Representatives from the Information Service Department, Assembly members, Civil Society Organizations, Persons with Disabilities, Youth Groups, and Political parties among others.