The process of amending the Constitution to change the date to conduct Presidential and Parliamentary elections in the country from December 7, of every election year to the first Monday of November in an election year, began in Parliament yesterday.
The process began with the laying and First Reading of the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2016 which 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.
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 from one government to the other, according to the memorandum of the bill, 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.
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,” it said.
After the First Reading of the Bill, the Speaker, Edward Adjaho, referred it to the Council of State for consideration and advice in accordance with Article 291 of the Constitution.
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.
In pursuant to the bill, Mr. Adjaho, after the First Reading of the bill, referred it to the Council of State for consideration and advice within 30 days after receiving it.
The bill is expected back in the House from the Council before the end of July to be taken through the Second and Third Readings before a decision is taken.
If passed by the legislature in accordance with Article 291, the President shall assent to it, Clause 291 (4) states.
The Member of Parliament of Sekondi, Papa Owusu Ankomah stressed the need for the law makers to be given copies of the bill on time to enable them study it properly to make informed decision.
By Yaw Kyei