‘Let’s build consensus’ – Wereko Brobby, IDEG boss back Referendum postponement
Engineer and former statesman, Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby has joined growing calls for government to postpone the December 17 referendum.
The former Chief Executive of the Volta River Authority (VRA) said without consensus, the attempt to amend Article 55/3 of the Constitution would be an exercise in futility.
The proposed amendment seeks to repeal the provision in the Constitution which bars political parties from participating in District level and lower government unit elections.
But speaking on JoyNews’ AM Show Wednesday, Wereko-Brobby said there has been a miscommunication about the purpose of the referendum, leading to mistrust among the political leaders.
He said without a consensus, it would be impossible for the referendum to get its required 75 per cent endorsement by at least 40 per cent of registered voters to pass.
Dr Brobby called on government to hold on with the referendum and engage all stakeholders more on the needed reforms at the local government level after which the consensus reached would be put to a referendum.
All indications pointed to a smooth amendment of Article 55/3 until the biggest opposition party, at a press conference announced a shocking opposition to the amendment.
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) accused government of deliberate misinformation on the purpose of the referendum.
According to the NDC’s National Chairman Samuel Ofosu Ampofo, the Akufo-Addo administration had led Ghanaians to believe the referendum is about whether or not MMDCEs should be elected, a long-desired will of the people.
Government, however, denied misleading the public, stating that the two issues are not mutually exclusive.
Local Government Minister, Alima Mahama explained that if the referendum happens to pass, a parallel amendment in parliament would allow political parties to field candidates for MMDCE elections.
Campaigners against the amendment of Article 55/3, however, maintain, they support parliament’s amendment of the Constitution to allow MMDCE election but the political parties should not be allowed to partake.
Prof. Kwaku Asare, a renowned lawyer argues that maintaining the non-partisan nature of the Assemblies would foster better collaboration and consensus building which would be absent if political party reps get involved.
A brief postponement
Also speaking on the AM Show, the Executive Director of a governance think tank, Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr Emmanuel Akwetey also backed a brief hold on the referendum for further engagement to be done.
He said some three-month hold on the public vote would give enough time to sort out the uncertainties and trust issues surrounding the vote.
Postponing it for more that would not be feasible, he noted, adding 2020 is a General Elections year.
However, Deputy Chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Dr Eric Bossman has told JoyNews the Commission would not entertain the referendum in 2020 at all.
“It won’t work with our schedule,” he stated, adding a postponement would even lead to financial costs since resources have already been expended on the December 17 exercise.