The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has proposed that elections in the 45 yet-to-be created constituencies should be suspended until after the 2012 elections.
In the view of the congress, with the legal instrument to manage the elections for the proposed constituencies not in force barely two months to the elections and its unreasonableness, practically, to expect the Electoral Commission (EC) and the political parties to confront and surmount the logistical challenges, suspending elections at the yet-to¬be-created constituencies would be meaningful.
This was contained in a statement issued on the controversy surrounding the creation of 45 new constituencies prior to the 2012 elections. This position was emphasised at the 9th Quadrennial Delegates Congress which took place from August, 12 to 16, 2012 at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi and captured as a key part of congress resolution.
It would be recalled that former President John Agyekum Kufuor slammed the EC for its persistence to create 45 new constituencies barely three months to the 2012 general election.
Speaking at the New Patriotic Party’s (NPP’s) campaign launch at Mantse Agbonaa in James Town last Saturday, the former President advised the EC to desist from the exercise, saying it was not a “sensible” one.
He said while Ghanaians yearned for peaceful elections in December, he had sensed “only one hitch so far and that is the persistence of the EC on creating 45 new constituencies when the register has been done for the oncoming election”
The Centre for Democratic Development (CDD) also joined the crusade in criticising the EC for creating 45 new constituencies.
While it acknowledged the power of the EC to undertake periodic review of the constituencies, the group insisted that the procedure adopted by the EC to create the new constituencies was flawed and inconsistent with Article 47 of the 1992 Constitution.
CDD is also concerned about the huge financial and logistical burden the creation of the new constituencies has on the country, as well as the political parties.
On the other hand, the New Vision Party (NVP) argues that it will go a long way to enhance the total development of the country.
The NVP insists that most of the current 230 constituencies are too large for a single Member of Parliament to administer and that for effective management, the constituencies need to be divided for the MPs to serve the people better.
According to the TUC, it is manifestly impracticable to expect the political parties to go through their known processes in any meaningful and genuine way to take part in the elections in those proposed constituencies.
It said while “the constitution of Ghana is unequivocal on the power of the Electoral Commission of Ghana to create constituencies, the Constitution did not permit the EC to proceed with creation of constituencies for purposes of elections in a capricious and arbitrary manner.
What is even more fundamental, the TUC argues, is that no provision of the Constitution imposes a duty on the EC to add new constituencies to the already existing ones.
Article 47 Clause 5 states as follows: “The Electoral Commission shall review the division of Ghana into constituencies at intervals of not less than seven years, or within twelve months after the publication of the enumeration figures after the holding of a census of the population of Ghana, whichever is earlier, and may, as a result, alter the constituencies.”
“In our humble opinion, altering constituencies does not necessarily mean creating additional constituencies; it may simply mean re-aligning existing constituencies, taking into account increase and shifts in population,” the TUC statement indicated.
It stated that this dimension of the Electoral Commissions’s obligation, under Article 47, that after every census the EC must create new constituencies is simply unsustainable.
According to the TUC, it was important that institutional arrogance, intransigence and self-righteousness hidden behind the legalities of the rule of law should not inform the approach to the resolution of political disputes and concerns, especially one related to elections.
In the opinion of the TUC, this challenge and others that may arise must be handled in a manner that would build confidence and engender the trust of Ghanaians and all political parties.
It recalled the issue of the passing of the Representation of the People’s Amendment Law (ROPAL), in which the TUC had to advocate for its deferral in view of its timing and the institutional capacity of the EC to manage elections under it.
It further recalled the challenges the EC faced during the last district assembly elections and the need not to be unnecessarily over-confident about its capacity.
On the general approach to managing the 2012 elections, the TUC advised the Presidency, the EC, the Judiciary and all political parties that in their discussions, negotiations, mediation and settling of disputes or concerns arising from the electoral process, they should not be tied down by only legalities and technicalities, which could sometimes be subject to abuse or be overtaken by everyday events, but should be informed by the principles of good faith, common sense reasonability and mutual respect.
It cited Article 47 Clause 6 of the Constitution which says since any altered constituencies effected by the EC shall come into effect only “upon the next dissolution of Parliament”, that is from January 7, 2012, the EC had sufficient timing to sit down with the political parties and all stakeholders to agree on clear criteria for the alteration of the constituencies on the basis of the consensus reached.
They can then enact the Constitutional Instrument (CI) that establishes the legal criteria for altering consistencies and then proceed to alter the constituencies based on the CI not for purposes of the 2012 elections, but for purposes of the 2016 elections.
According to the TUC, it had followed with concern the events of the last couple of days on the creation of the new constituencies and its implications for the 2012 presidential and parliamentary elections. .
In the view of the TUC, over the last 12 months, it had cause to admonish the main political actors and Ghanaians on the need for peace as a prerequisite for development and concluded that the working people of Ghana desired a free, fair and peaceful 2012 election in which the outcome would be a true reflection of the voice of the people as expressed on the day of the election.
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