EC, Parliamentarians deliberate over Nov. 7 polls date change

Ms Charlotte Osei,EC boss

Ms Charlotte Osei,EC boss

The fate of the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2016 which seeks to change the date to conduct the presidential and parliamentary polls from December 7 of every election year to the first Monday of an election year is uncertain, as the amendment needs the approval of more than 180 members in the House to be accepted.

The House is made up of 152 members on the majority side and 123 on the minority. However, the amendment needs the approval of more than two-thirds of the entire members in the House before the dream to vote on November 7 would become a reality.

The amendment risks being rejected by the House should any political party attempt to whip its members to take a definite position on it, since no party represents more than two-thirds of the entire membership in the House.

After a crunch meeting with the Electoral Commissioner, Mrs. Charlotte Osei, on the bill, members on the Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs were tightlipped on what exactly transpired.

Although it appears not all the members on the committee are in support of the amendment, the position of the committee might not necessarily matter since the final decision would be taken by the plenary.

Every Member of Parliament will contribute to the decision making process on the bill independently through a secret ballot.

Currently, the date set aside in respect of the conduct of both Presidential and Parliamentary elections in the country 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.

However, the one month period for the transition of one government to the other has, over the years, proved insufficient for a smooth transition particularly in instances where there is a run-off as was the case in 2000 and 2008.

Holding the Presidential and Parliamentary elections in November would allow for 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

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