Open Referendum Proposals For Discussion —IEA Committee urges govt.

Auntie GraceAn anti Winner-Takes-All (WTA) Advisory Committee working under the auspices of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has called for extensive public discussion and education on the constitutional amendment issues slated for the upcoming referendum.

“The Constitution review process is a matter of public interest, and therefore, must be conducted in a more consultative and transparent manner,” the Committee said.

According to the 11-member Committee, chaired by Archbishop Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, there was a need for sufficient public engagement to build consensus on the issues slated before the referendum was undertaken.

At a news conference in Accra yesterday, the Committee recommended that “government should slow down the pace of the current stage of the Constitution review process to enable more public consultation, education and sensitisation on the contents of the Government White Paper.”

The draft bill for the constitutional amendment, which has been approved by Cabinet, is currently before Parliament for discussion. It is expected to be forwarded to the Council of State for its input ahead of the Electoral Commission’s conduct of a referendum on the entrenched provisions.

Justice Emil Short, former Chairman of the Commission for Human Rughts and Administrative Justice, reading the Committee’s statement at the press conference, said they were of the view that consultations and vigilance in the review process, remained crucial to mitigate the growing potential threat of political agitation and social disintegration that the current system seems to be engendering.

He said the committee regretted that although many Ghanaians called for a rethink of the “winner-takes-all” syndrome, the Constitution Review Implementation Committee seems to have virtually completed its task without any indication that the problem would be addressed.

In addition, he said although there were reports of plans by the EC to hold the referendum in December this year, the committee believes there has been limited public awareness of the proposals for the referendum.

“The Committee appeals to government to allow more time for public consultation process to be completed and the recommendations integrated into the issues before the referendum,” he said.

As part of its contribution, he announced that the Advisory Committee, would undertake a three-month nationwide consultative meeting with various groups to their create awareness about the referendum and solicit their input into the proposals.

“Through this process, the committee hopes to bring about the public awareness, understanding and participation on critical issues of national governance outlined for constitution review and to contribute to a more sustainable review effort,” he stressed.

Archbishop Palmer-Buckle, in his remarks, stressed the need for consensus on the issues that would be slated for the referendum, saying that the problem of winner-takes-all in the nation’s governance system, needs to be addressed by the constitution.

“Ghanaians need to know and understand the proposals for the referendum,” he said, adding that it was vital for the smooth implementation of those proposals when approved by Ghanaians. By Edmund Mingle

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