Former President John Dramani Mahama has refuted an assertion by President Akufo-Addo suggesting that an agreement was reached in a consultative meeting with the three ex-presidents on allowing political parties’ participation in elections at the local level, ABC News has gathered.
The former President who admitted that the issue was tabled for discussion at the said meeting, maintained that consensus was not reached on same.
President Akufo-Addo while announcing the abortion of the December 17 referendum last Sunday made remarks which has been understood by many to mean that the four leaders came to a common ground on the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives on partisan grounds.
“On Tuesday, 18th April, 2017, a little over four (4) months into my mandate, I held a meeting with my three predecessors, the 1st, 2nd and 4th Presidents of the 4th Republic, their Excellencies Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor, and John Dramani Mahama, at Jubilee House, to seek their views and counsel on these issues. I came away from that meeting with the view that there was consensus amongst us that the time had come for political parties to participate openly in district assembly elections and local governance,” the President stated.
In his reaction to the President’s comment however, the presidential candidate for the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) said the impression the President sought to create was “inaccurate”.
He explained rather that, three issues came up for discussions during the April 18 meeting with the President, two of which he indicated received consensus but the last issue – election of MMDCEs on partisan lines, remained inconclusive.
“I guess that we could have managed a better consensus but some things the president said were inaccurate. He called the former presidents for a consultation. We discussed three things; we discussed welfare matters of ex-presidents – whether the Parliamentary Legislation concerning the retirement of presidents was being implemented; that as the first thing and the second thing we discussed; the issue of creation of new regions and all of us, there was a consensus on the creation of new regions,” he explained.
He emphasised that “then he brought the issue of election MMDCEs. Now there, there was no consensus. Even though there was consultation there was no consensus.”
“President Kufour was for political party participation, President Akufo-Addo was for it. I took the stance of the Fiadzo committee report that we should still keep political parties out because we can achieve election of DCEs without political participation.
“President Rawlings did not express any firm stand but on that particular matter there was no consensus,” Mr Mahama said.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Sunday December 1, announced the abortion of the Referendum which was scheduled to take place on December 17, 2019, alongside the election of Assembly and Unit Committee members.
The President cited the lack of consensus among stakeholders, particularly on the part of the political parties, as the reason for the decision.
President Akufo-Addo noted that all parties had formed a consensus on the issue until 2 weeks ago when the opposition, National Democratic Congress backtracked on the agreement and canvassed for ‘No’ vote.
The President insisted the decision to call off the referendum was taken in consultation with some key stakeholders and opinion leaders, adding that he is confident the ‘YES’ vote campaigners would have succeeded had the exercise taken place.
“I do not believe that such an amendment should be driven as a party matter. There has to be a clear national consensus and agreement amongst the populace that a particular entrenched position no longer serves the interest of the people, and, thus, has to be removed,” he declared.
The December 17 referendum sought to amend Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution to enable Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and unit committee members to be elected along political party lines.
The provision can only be amended through a referendum which per Article 290(4) of the 1992 constitution, can be approved when at least 40% of persons entitled to vote, vote at the referendum and at least 75% of the persons who vote cast their ballot, vote in favour of passing the bill.