Pending the outcome of the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill 2016 in Parliament, the Electoral Commission (EC) has drafted two Constitutional Instruments (CIs) for the conduct of the general election in both November 7 and December 7.
The decision, according to the EC, is to satisfy Article 63(2) of the Constitution and avoid causing further delay to the November 7 deadline, should Parliament amend the Constitution.
In every election year, the EC is required to, under Article 63(2) of the Constitution, present a CI specifying the exact date it will conduct presidential elections in the country to Parliament for approval.
However, with the introduction of the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2016, which seeks to change the date to conduct elections in the country from December 7 to the first Monday of November of every election year, the EC is yet to decide on the date and meet the requirement under Article 63(2).
Some members of the public have also raised doubts over the EC’s readiness to conduct the elections in November.
But the EC told Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs that it had prepared the two CIs pending the outcome of the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill to demonstrate its readiness to conduct the polls on any of the two dates.
The committee presented its report on the bill, advice from the Council of State, and its meetings with the EC officials and other stakeholders to the plenary yesterday.
The Constitutional (Amendment) Bill needs the approval of more than two-thirds of the 275 members in Parliament. It is expected to go through the Second Reading in Parliament today.
While urging the House to adopt its report and pass the bill, the committee said it was cautious of the implications of the change of the date of the elections, although it did not state the implications in clear terms.
Parliament is expected to debate the report, possibly take the bill through the Consideration Stage, before taking a decision on it.
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 over the years had proved insufficient for a smooth transition particularly in instances where there was a run-off as was the case in 2000 and 2008.
The bill said 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.
In another development, the House took the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Bill 2016 which seeks to establish a legal framework for the development, implementation of PPP arrangement and projects between public institutions and private entities for the provision of public infrastructure and services.
By Yaw Kyei