The Council of State, yesterday, submitted its advice on the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2016 which seeks to change the date to conduct general elections in the country from December 7 of every election year to the first Monday of an election year to Parliament.
After the First Reading of the bill in the House last week, the Speaker, Edward Adjaho, referred the bill to the Council of State for consideration and advice within 30 days, in accordance with Article 291 of the Constitution.
Six days after the referral, the council has submitted its advice to the House to pave the way for the bill to be taken through the legislative process.
The bill, together with the advice from the Council, was referred to the House’s Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs yesterday for consideration and report.
The committee is expected to scrutinise the entire document and the recommendations from the Council of State and present its report to the plenary for further debate and approval.
The bill seeks to amend Article 112 (4) of the constitution to provide a date for the conduct of the election to ensure an effective and smooth transition.
Article 291 states that a bill to amend a provision of the Constitution which is not an entrenched provision shall not be introduced into Parliament unless it has been published twice in the gazette with the second publication being made at least three months after the first one.
The Article also requires that at least 10 days should pass after the second publication of the bill before it is introduced in Parliament.
The Constitutional (Amendment) Bill was first published on March 9 this year while the second publication was done on June 15, before it was introduced to the House yesterday.
According to the Memorandum of the bill, the date set aside in respect of the conduct of both Presidential and Parliamentary elections in the country currently is on the 7th day of December while swearing in of the President takes place on the 7th day of January in the ensuing year.
The one month period for the transition of one government to the other has proved insufficient for a smooth transition particularly in instances where there is a run-off as was the case in 2000 and 2008.
The passage of the bill would allow sufficient time between elections and the handing over of power to an incoming government.
This would also ensure a smooth transition and reduce acrimony as well as prevent the chaotic situation whereby former ministers of state are recalled to provide information to the in-coming government on matters of the state
By Yaw Kyei