A Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) has assured of another chance of a referendum on whether or not to allow political party participation in local governance.
Speaking at a forum in Accra, Friday, Dr Kwesi Jonah said there has been some display of good faith between government and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) who called on their supporters to vote against the aborted referendum question in December.
“Barely a week after the President had withdrawn the bills, the Chairman of the NDC wrote to the President that we want to have a discussion so that this thing can happen. And the President, when he met the press after that said he is aware the NDC had written and he was going to respond positively.
“So it means a referendum may come sooner than we expect,” Dr Jonah said.
After growing calls to make the position of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) elective instead of by presidential appointment, the government began the process by laying an amendment bill in Parliament.
But the Akufo-Addo administration, in a move that was not stated in their manifesto, added another bill.
They wanted to amend the law barring political parties from local government elections so that the parties can field candidates for the MMDCEs’ elections when that bill passes parliament, only the former had to be amended in a referendum.
A lot of campaigners opposed this and although the NDC supported it at first, they beat a retreat and called on their supporters and Ghanaians in general to vote against it.
The NDC argued among other things that there was too much division at the national level along party lines and there was no need to extend that to the local assemblies.
President Akufo-Addo had to stop the referendum processes after pressure built on him to build a consensus before moving forward.
But in an unexpected turn of events, the bill to change the position of MMDCEs from an appointed one to elected one was also withdrawn.
Critics said President Akufo-Addo acted in bad faith by tying the election of MMDCEs to political party participation and called for the bill to be relayed in parliament.
Others called the entire process a missed opportunity to have MMDCEs elected.