On occasion of 30th anniversary of referendum: Democracy good for us! …President affirms and urges Ghanaians to renew trust in constitution  

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has pledged to push for the amendment of the 1992 Constitution to enable citizens select their district chief executives directly through election.

Although attempts were made to repeal the entrenched provision of Article 55(3) of the Constitution through a referendum in 2019 in that regard, the government truncated the process due to lack of consensus by stakeholders.

The ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) wanted a repeal of the law to enable political parties to sponsor candidates for the election but the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) campaigned against the idea.

In a televised address to the nation on the 30th anniversary of the referendum that gave birth to the Constitution yesterday evening, the President reaffirmed his commitment to revisit the matter.

He pledged to create the opportunity for stakeholders to dialogue to reach a consensus on the issue.

One primary goal of the 1992 Constitution, according to the President, was to decentralise the structure of governance in Ghana to enable citizens benefit from government at the local level. 

“It was and continues to be my view that the repeal or modification of an entrenched clause of the Constitution should attract widespread support to make it acceptable and healthy for the body politic” 

“We should further bear in mind the strong attachment of the Ghanaian people to multi-party democratic elections”. 

“On the average, the turn out for national elections in the 4th Republic has been 72 per cent, one of the highest in the world, whilst the turn out for the allegedly non-partisan local government elections has always hovered around 30 per cent,” he said.

The President continued: “I have said it before, and I will repeat it. I will continue to work for an extensive, national consensus on this issue, and should such a consensus be attained for the repeal of Article 55(3) of the Constitution, and an agreement reached for political parties to participate in and sponsor candidates for election to district assemblies, at any point during my remaining tenure of office as President of the Republic, the matter will be brought back again to the front burner of our public discourse for the necessary action. 

President Akufo-Addo further pledged to announce the way forward once the main stakeholders reached a consensus.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary, the President said despite the challenges the country continued to face, the constitution had served the nation well.

“We should never forget, though, that the Constitution is a “Living Document”, and, so whenever circumstances require it, we should be prepared to make the necessary amendments to it to reflect the needs of contemporary and future times,” the President added.

The referendum on the 1992 Constitution was held in Ghana on April 28, 1992. The main issues were the reintroduction of multi-party politics and the division of powers between the president and parliament.

After voting, 3,408,119 representing 92.59 per cent of the total 3,680,974 voted in favour of the Constitution while 272,855, 7.41 per cent of the voters voted against it.

On May 18, 1992, the ban on party politics was lifted in preparation for multi-party elections. Presidential elections were held on November 3 and parliamentary elections on December 29 of that year. 

The new constitution entered into force on January 7, 1993, to found the Fourth Republic. 

The Fourth Republic, the longest in the country’s history, has produced five presidents in eight elections.

BY YAW KYEI

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