President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has asked Ghanaians to turnout in their numbers on December 17 to vote ‘Yes’ in the referendum to repeal Article 55(3) of the Constitution.
The referendum seeks to amend the constitution to give electorates the power to elect directly their own Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives.
Speaking at the 30th anniversary celebration of the Akatsi District Assembly yesterday at the commencement of his two-day tour of the Volta Region, President Akufo-Addo indicated that the District Assembly concept, introduced some 31 years ago, under the Rawlings era, is one of the most important contributions to the improvement of Ghana’s national governance.
According to President Akufo-Addo, the District Assembly concept “has led to the enhancement of participatory involvement of our people in their local government. Now, it is time to deepen the process that was began 31 years ago, and entrust to the people full sovereignty over the election of the MMDCEs and members of the District Assemblies”.
With the members of the District Assemblies already elected directly “in an allegedly non-partisan way,” the President noted that it is an open secret that these elections are partisan, and the political parties are deeply involved.
“It is not long ago that the General Secretary of one of the major political parties told us that his party had won control over the District Assembly elections, and it meant that the party was on its way to victory in the main election. So, we all know the District Assembly Elections have ceased to be non-partisan a long time ago,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo continued, “It is time to strip the veneer of non-partisanship away, and look at the reality, which is that they are multi-party and partisan. We want to bring democracy to the local level a step further, and entrust to the people the right to select directly themselves their MMDCEs as well as their MPs, and do so in an open, transparent, and partisan multi-party basis.”
The obstacle to this development, he noted, is Article 55(3) of the Constitution which prohibits parties from sponsoring candidates into local government, and that is why, “Parliament, together with the Executive, have gone through the motions and processes necessary for us to do so, and we will do so on the 17th of December, when the referendum is held, along with the District Assembly elections, to decide whether or not we should move one step further in the consolidation of democracy in our country.”
With the Constitution requiring a turnout of 40 per cent of the electorate, with 75 per cent of the turnout voting ‘yes’ for the repeal of Article 55(3) to be successful, the President was confident that, in Akatsi, the turn out will be even more than 40 per cent, and the vote will be even more than 75 per cent.
“Vote yellow for the ‘Yes’ vote on 17th of December. We want to take Ghana one step forward. We are making progress with our democracy on many fronts. This is one of the last remaining barriers that we have to overcome. Support the initiative that the government has taken to bring greater control over local government to the people in the area,” he indicated.
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering in Akatsi that, a ‘Yes’ vote means “you can choose for yourself, directly, the man or woman you want as your DCE. No President is going to be involved anymore. I have the power, I say I am giving you the power to choose, and relieve me of the burden. I want you to be the one to make the decision for yourself.”
BY TIMES REPORTER