The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has called off the holding of the Referendum of 17th December, 2019, citing the lack of a broad, national consensus amongst key stakeholders and the populace.
President Akufo-Addo has, thus, instructed the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development, Hon. Hajia Alima Mahama, MP, who is spearheading the process, on behalf of government, to abort the process, and see to the withdrawal of the bills for the amendment of the Constitution, both in respect of article 243(1) and article 55(3).
When the first gentleman of the nation spoke on national television, he stressed on the need for the referendum to be called off, saying
“I do not believe that such an amendment should be driven as a party matter. There has to be a clear national consensus and agreement amongst the populace that a particular entrenched provision no longer serves the interest of the people, and, thus, has to be removed,”
He continued, “In this case, it had been long apparent that political parties were, in fact, actively involved in district assembly elections, despite their apparently non-partisan nature. The time had come to strip the process of its hypocrisy, and accept and work with the reality of party involvement.”
The president also stressed that having come to power in 2016, he did receive a firm conviction, emanating from the campaign and national discussions, that there was a national consensus for two important amendments to the country’s governance system, which would enhance its effectiveness and accountability and that was the reorganization of the country’s regional governance structure, and the potential involvement of political parties in local governance.
In retrospect of this and other matters, Ghanaians are reminded of the closed door meeting that took place on Tuesday, 18th April, 2017, a little over four (4) months into the president’s tenure with his three predecessors, HE Jerry John Rawlings, HE John Agyekum Kufuor, and HE John Dramani Mahama, at Jubilee House, where he seeker their views and counsel on these issues.
“I came away from that meeting with the view that there was consensus amongst us that the time had come for political parties to participate openly in district assembly elections and local governance,” the president said.
His Excellency President Nana Akufo-Addo also stated that the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) made turned their backs on the matter stating that it was no longer prepared to go along with the national consensus.
“They indicated further that they will actively campaign for a ‘No’ vote. In as much as I still believe that there is enough support in the country for a ‘Yes’ vote to be successful on 17th December, I do not believe that this is the proper atmosphere in which an issue of such nature, i.e. the repeal of an entrenched provision of the Constitution, should be addressed in our country,” he said
Despite having an unrepentant belief in party politics being good for the country, President Akufo-Addo stated that “I also think that, on matters of such constitutional significance, there should be a broad, national consensus behind the repeal of an entrenched provision of the Constitution”.
The President assured that his Government will continue to work for a broad, national consensus on the issue, adding that “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 tenure of office as President of the Republic, the matter will be brought again back to the front burner of our public discourse for the necessary action”.