The Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD) has announced December 10, as the date for the referendum to determine whether Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) should be elected or not in the country.
The referendum which would be held alongside the district assembly elections will seek to amend Articles 55(3) and 243(1) of the 1992 Constitution which prevents political parties from participating in district level elections, including the elections of MMDCEs and the powers of the President to appoint MMDCEs respectively.
The Minister of MLDRD, Hajia Alima Mahama, announced this in Accra yesterday when she took her turn at the Meet-the-Press series organised by the Ministry of Information.
She used the occasion also to outdoor a roadmap that would guide the whole exercise which seeks to amend entrenched provisions in the constitution to allow for the election of MMDCEs on party lines.
The roadmap is in four phases and structured as pre-referendum phase, the referendum phase, post-referendum phase and change management and capacity building phase.
Hajia Mahama explained that the election of MMDCEs was a major campaign promise of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) during the 2016 electioneering campaign.
She said to fulfil this promise, government set in motion the processes for the necessary constitutional, legal, policy and institutional changes that would allow for political parties participation in the district level elections.
Hajia Mahama said that, the first step towards appointing MMDCEs through universal adult suffrage was the amendment of Article 243(1) which gives the power of appointment to the President.
She noted that this provision was an entrenched provision which required that a number of processes including constitutional amendment were undertaken.
The Minister said a bill to amend the necessary provisions in the constitution including Articles 55(3) and 243(1) had already been approved by cabinet and submitted to the Speaker of Parliament.
She explained that as stipulated by the constitution, the Speaker of Parliament upon receipt of the amended bill forwarded it to the Council of State and subsequently gazetted.
“As we speak now, the bill has been laid in parliament and has been referred to the Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament,” she added.
The Minister said the roadmap also included a National Campaign Strategy which had been developed to facilitate a successful national referendum which would be conducted alongside the District Level Elections in December.
“A bill to amend Article 55(3) of the Constitution to pave way for the participation of political parties in district level elections, was approved by cabinet, forwarded to Mr Speaker, then to the Council of State for advice, was published in the Gazette, matured on May 24, and laid in parliament for the first reading on May 28, 2019,” she said.
Hajia Mahama stated that as part of the phase one of the roadmap implementation, series of stakeholder sensitisation and consultations had been held in all 16 regions of the country.
Some of the stakeholders engaged so far were the Parliamentary Select Committee on Local Government, the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), the Electoral Commission (EC), the National House of Chiefs, political parties, the Christian Council, the Federation of Muslim Councils in Ghana and professional bodies as well as civil society groups.
By Cliff Ekuful