Parliament’s Vice Chairperson on the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development (CLGRD), Sanid Suleman Adamu, has said, the President’s decision to withdraw the referendum has been vindicated by the poor voter turnout in the just ended District and Local level Elections (DLEs).
Even though the Electoral Commission (EC) has not officially provided statistics for the polls, reports indicate that the DLE was characterised by low voter turnout.
Speaking on Adom FM’s Burning Issues on Wednesday, December 18, 2019, the Ahafo Ano North Member of Parliament, said, the voter turnout was not better than the average 39 per cent that has been recorded since 1988.
Even though Director of Electoral Services at the EC, Dr Serebour Quaicoe, had disclosed earlier on the show that turnout at the rural areas was higher as compared to the urban centres, the Commission will publish the full statistics next week.
Suleman Adamu said the President’s call for the amendment of the Constitution to involve political parties in the DLEs was the surest way to curb the apathy.
Meanwhile, a Member of the Committee on Local Government and Rural Development, Thomas Ampem Nyarko, said the issue the National Democratic Congress (NDC) has with the referendum is the implications of the election aftermath but not mere voter turnout.
”Our [NDC] disagreement on the referendum far outweighs the possibility of voter turnout,” he told host, Akua Boakyewaa Yiadom on the same show.
A constitutional referendum was scheduled to be held on 17th December 2019, alongside the DLEs. The proposed amendments to the Constitution would have allowed for the direct election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and allow political parties to be involved in local elections.
The amendment would have been effected on Article 243(1), which provides for the appointment of MMDCEs by the President and article 55(3), which bans political parties’ activities in DLEs.
As article 55 is an entrenched clause, the referendum would have required a turnout of at least 40% and over 75% of those voting to vote in favour of the proposal to be passed.
Nevertheless, on December 1, 2019, President Akufo-Addo cancelled the referendum following a decision by opposition NDC’s “NO” campaign.
Other Civil Society Organisations and the National House of Chiefs also expressed their reservations, particularly, about the move to amend Article 55(3).