President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called off the Referendum which was scheduled to take place on December 17, 2019, alongside the election local government authorities, ABC News can report.
The President cited lack of consensus among stakeholders, particularly 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.
On the opposition’s U-turn, the President stated, “they indicated further that they will go for a ‘No’ vote. In as much as I still believe there is enough support in the country for a ‘Yes’ vote to be successful on 17th December, I do not believe that this is the proper atmosphere in which an issue of such nature, i.e, the repeal of an entrenched provision of the constitution should take place.”
The President made these remarks in an address to the nation to the nation Sunday night.
This comes barely a week after the Deputy Minister of Information, Pius Hadzide, hinted that the President will take a final decision on the impending referendum soon.
The December 17 Referendum seeks 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.
Meanwhile, concerns have been raised over the possibility of 75% of prospective voters voting ‘Yes’ on the election day as it appears that the campaign for ‘No’ votes, particularly by the opposition National Democratic Congress, has gained ground.
To ensure a successful exercise in line with the government’s agenda, some individuals, including leading members of the government called for a postponement of the exercise to allow for broader stakeholder engagement to resolve the issues that have been raised by its opponents.
The Minister for Regional Reorganisation and Development, Dan Botwe for instance, called for the withdrawal of the exercise for it to be organised alongside any future general election.
The Christian Council of Ghana, last week, also backed calls for the postponement of the exercise to allow for broader stakeholder engagement and education to inform the decisions of voters.