MMDCEs take steps to keep Assemblies running

nii lante vanderpuijeThe tenure of office of the various Metropolitan Municipal and District Assemblies MMDAs ended on Saturday, March 14.

All the assemblies, except that of the Lower Manya Krobo, in the Eastern Region, were inaugurated on March 15, 2011 with a four-year mandate.

Last Friday, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development issued a directive to the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) to take charge of the executive and administrative functions of their respective Assemblies until the District Level Elections are conducted and successive Assemblies constituted.

As directed by the Local Government Ministry, the various MMDCEs are making feverish preparations to take over their respective assemblies.

Professor Kwamena Ahwoi, an expert in Local Governance, welcomed the decision, saying the directive from the ministry was “right, in order and proper”.

When contacted on their preparations to take over the mantle as directed by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the Chief Executive of Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA), Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, said “the situation is under control since most often the assemblies meet every quarter of the year to take decisions”.

He said some decision already made by the General Assembly were still in the implementation stages.

Mr. Vanderpuije said the AMA would continue implementing those decisions until elections are held and new members sworn into office.

Ms. Rita Odotei Sowah, Municipal Chief Executive of La Dadekotopon Municipal Assembly (LadMA), shared the same opinion with the AMA Chief Executive about decisions taken by the General Assembly which are on the implementation stages.

She, however said, a major gap would be created when the Audit Report Implementation Committee (ARIC) chaired by an assembly member had to meet to discuss the report.

Ms Sowah said in such a situation, the meeting of the committee which was critical to the administrative structure, could pose a challenge if the election was delayed.

She said since the assembly members served as the conduit to bring issues to and from the assembly, their absence would be very much felt.

Ms Sowah, urged members in the electoral areas to feel free to bring their concerns to the assembly until elections were held in July.

“The District Assembly Elections Act 473 of 1994 states that ‘Elections to a District Assembly shall be held every four years except that District Assembly elections shall be held at least six months apart from parliamentary elections.

Consequently, the Electoral Commission (EC) was expected to have conducted elections on Munch 3, but the commission was stopped in its track following a suit filed at the Supreme Court by Benjamin Eyi Mensah, a fisherman, from Winneba in the Central Region.

The Supreme Court, by a unanimous decision on February 27, ordered the EC tor e-open nominations for the district assembly election for violating the constitution by using obnoxious law to open nominations.

The EC has already spend about GH¢317 million on the botched elections and now requesting for additional GH¢90million to conduct fresh elections in July.

The Supreme Court verdict meant that the various positions at the district assemblies would remain vacant after the expiry of the tenure of the existing members.

To avoid a constitutional crisis, the Vice-President, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur asked the Attorney General to liaise with the relevant agencies to consider extending the mandate of the assembly members.

By Augustine Cobba-Biney & Lawrence Markwei

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