The Executive Director of the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, insists that a “Yes” vote in the upcoming national referendum will enhance Ghana’s democracy.
He has, therefore, called on all stakeholders, particularly the political parties and institutions that are against the “Yes” vote, to reconsider their position and see the overall benefits of supporting the referendum.
Speaking at a public lecture organised by IDEG in Accra yesterday, Dr Akwetey said the country “stands to benefit a lot from amending Article 55 (3) of the Constitution to pave the way for political parties’ participation in district level elections”.
Ghana will, on December 17, this year, head to the polls to vote in a referendum to amend Article 55 (3) of the Constitution to allow for the election of metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs).
Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution, which is an entrenched provision, states: “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 election to any public office other than the district assemblies or lower local government units.”
On the same day of the referendum, there will be the election of members of the district assemblies and unit committees.
Since the campaign began, there have been divergent opinions by stakeholders on the referendum.
Whereas some are calling for a “Yes” vote, with the explanation that it will transform Ghana’s democracy, others contend that allowing parties to participate in district elections will not benefit Ghana and so people should vote “No”.
The IDEG is one of the institutions that believe that amending Article 55(3) will enhance Ghana’s democracy.
In his lecture, titled: “The national referendum on Article 55(3) of the Constitution — Is it important?”, Dr Akwetey said a “Yes” vote would deepen Ghana’s democracy.
He said amending Article 55 (3) would go a long way to break the duopoly of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC), while allowing smaller parties to have a say in Ghana’s development agenda.
With a “Yes” vote, Dr Akwetey said, political parties which did not win national elections would have the chance to contest district-level elections and, if they won, they would maintain control of some assemblies.
“It will encourage more inclusiveness in the governance of the country,” he added.
At the lecture, two political parties — the Convention People’s Party (CPP) and the Liberal Party of Ghana (LPG) — expressed their support for a “Yes” vote.
The Chairperson of the CPP, Hajia Hamdatu Ibrahim, said amending Article 55(3) would set the tone for a whole new transformation in Ghana’s democracy.
For his part, the acting Chairman of the LPG, Mr John Ameka, called for a “Yes” vote in the referendum.