The Electoral Commission (EC) has now settled on December 17, this year for the referendum on the election of metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs).
Earlier, the EC had fixed December 10, 2019, for the referendum.
The Director of Electoral Services at the EC, Dr Serebour Quaicoe, announced the new date at the launch of a coalition formed by some civil society organisations (CSOs) to push for the election of MMDCEs in Accra yesterday.
He said the change in the date was occasioned by the delay caused by the injunction application by a citizen, Mr Umar Ayuba, to the Supreme Court to stop the limited registration of voters which formed part of activities in the road map to the referendum.
Mr Ayuba filed the injunction against the EC’s decision to limit the limited voters registration exercise to its district offices on grounds that the move would disenfranchise many people.
The Apex Court dismissed the injunction on June 12, this year, but Dr Serebour said the legal action had affected their timelines, hence the change in the date for the referendum.
“We had our timelines that we were working to but the injunction made us lose some 14 days. We had to adjust our dates and finally settled on December 17, this year, as the date for the referendum. If nothing untoward occurs, we will do the referendum on that date because 2020 is a packed year and we do not want to add the referendum to the activities for that year,” he said.
Dr Serebour called for the support of stakeholders such as the media, the Judiciary, political parties and the general public to help the EC deliver on its mandate.
The government has activated a process to amend two clauses in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana to pave the way for the election of MMDCEs and to allow for political participation in local level elections.
Two bills seeking amendments to Articles 243(1) and 55(3) for election of MMDCEs and introduction of political party participation in the local elections have been presented to Parliament to be passed.
The CSOs coalition is, therefore, meant to engage key stakeholders including the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and the leadership of Parliament to speed up the amendment process.
The coalition is being spearheaded by the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana), the Centre for Local Governance Advocacy (CLGA) and the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG).
Dubbed the CSO Coalition on the National Referendum and Election of MMDCEs, the coalition will also mobilise other stakeholders and the public to support the referendum that will pave the way for the participation of political parties in the election of MMDCEs slated for 2021.
Key personalities at the launch of the coalition were the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, Hajia Alima Mahama; her two deputies, Mr Osei Bonsu Amoah and Mr Kwasi Agyei-Boateng, the Executive Director of IDEG, Dr Emmanuel Akwettey, and the Executive Director of CLGA, Professor Vladimir Antwi-Danso.
There were representatives from political parties, including the National Democratic Congress (NDC), the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the Convention People’s Party (CPP), the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) and the National Democratic Party (NDP).
Dr Akwettey explained that apart from engaging the President and Parliament to expedite action on the amendment to those articles, the coalition would canvass support from relevant stakeholders to facilitate the process for a successful referendum.
He stressed that the overall objective of the coalition was to ensure that a solid foundation was prepared for the election of MMDCEs in 2021.
To do that, he said, the coalition would strengthen engagement with key stakeholders such as the EC and the political parties and also use media campaign and advocacy to create awareness of the importance of electing MMDCEs.
In a speech, Hajia Mahama said the constitutional reforms and referendum processes leading to the election of the MMDCEs had been activated.
The minister stressed that electing MMDCEs was the best card to play, since the current system where MMDCEs were appointed by the President was inimical to local and inclusive governance.
“If we want to have the MMDCEs elected, the first thing is to ensure that Article 243(1) is amended; so I will urge MPs to help pass these bills when Parliament resumes in October,” she said.
In their solidarity messages, the representatives of the political parties gave an assurance that they would work with other stakeholders for the successful election of the MMDCES.