Gov’t cancels December 17 Referendum

The Akufo-Addo Government has cancelled the December 17 national referendum which was meant to decide on an amendment of Article 55 (3) of the Constitution to enable political parties to sponsor candidates during local level elections.

This was announced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in a brief address to the nation on Sunday, December 1, 2019.

The president attributed the decision to the absence of “a durable national consensus” on the matter following consultations.

“In these circumstances, I am convinced that it will not serve the public interest to go ahead with the holding of the public referendum on 17thDecember even though I believe a strong campaign for a yes vote would have succeeded. this is not the kind of atmosphere in which the repeal of an entrenched provision of the constitution should take place. ”

He also directed the Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Hajia Alima Mahama to withdraw the Bills seeking to change Articles 55 (3) and 243 (1).

“It is with deep regret that I have given instructions to the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development … to abort the process and see to the withdraw of the Bills for the amendment of the constitutions both in respect of Article 243 (1) and Article 55 (3).”

NDC kicks against referendum 

As the referendum day drew closer, there was a noticeable split among major stakeholders and observers.

After a seeming consensus on a YES vote in the referendum, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) started advocating for a NO vote.

The NDC was worried that an amendment will open district assemblies and unit committees to “the needless NDC-NPP polarisation.”

The NDC’s flagbearer, John Mahama also backed his party’s position suggesting that an amendment of Article 243(1) of the constitution was more necessary.

Per Article 243 (1) of the 1992 Constitution, District Chief Executives for every district are to be appointed by the President with the prior approval of not less than two-thirds majority of members of the assembly present and voting at the meeting.

The General Secretary of the NDC, Johnson Asiedu Nketia further claimed the government had not held any consultations with the party on the referendum.

The governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) was in favour of a YES vote saying the amendment to the constitution will bolster Ghana’s democracy.