Government has announced a withdrawal of the December 17 Referendum seeking to allow political parties to participate in elections at the district level, ABC News can report.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, who announced the withdrawal in a special broadcast Sunday night,said the decision is to allow time for further consultations with key stakeholders and the public.
The President revealed that he has directed the Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Hajia Alima Mahama to withdraw the Bills seeking to change Articles 55 (3) and 243 (1).
“It is with deep regrets that I have given instructions to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development who will spear this process on behalf of government with commendable vigour and dynamism to abort the process and seek the withdrawal of the Bills for the amendment of the constitution both in respect of Article 243(1) and Article 55(3),” President Akufo-Addo announced in a broadcast to the nation, Sunday night.
The referendum seeks to amend the law 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 were raised over the possibility of 75% of prospective voters voting ‘Yes’ on the election day as it appeared that the campaign for ‘No’ votes, particularly by the opposition National Democratic Congress and other opponents gained ground.
There were also concerns that the exercise could suffer low turnout as it appeared that many Ghanaians were not aware of the Referendum and its consequences.
While the debates on YES or NO votes lingered, a new Afrobarometer report disclosed that over 50 percent of Ghanaians said they were not aware of the upcoming referendum.
This and many other concerns led to calls on the Government to postpone the exercise to allow for broader stakeholder engagement and education to inform the decisions of voters.
The election of Metropolitan Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) was a major campaign promise of the New Patriotic Party in the run-up to the 2016 election.
The New Patriotic Party in its 2016 manifesto, promised to “oversee the direct election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) within 24 months of election into office, to coincide with the next District Assembly elections in 2019.”