Despite President Nana Akufo-Addo calling off the 17 December 2019 referendum on whether or not political parties should be allowed to sponsor candidates in local government elections, the Electoral Commission must go ahead with it to show it is really independent of the executive arm of government, private legal practitioner John Ndebugri has said.
Addressing the nation on Sunday, 1 December 2019, President Nana Akufo-Addo indicated that the attainment of a broad consensus, for him, on a matter as important as the amendment of an entrenched provision of the Constitution is critical.
“I do not believe that such an amendment should be driven as a party matter. There has to be a clear national consensus and agreement amongst the populace that a particular entrenched provision no longer serves the interest of the people, and, thus, has to be removed,” he said.
He continued: “In this case, it had been long apparent that political parties were, in fact, actively involved in district assembly elections, despite their apparently non-partisan nature. The time had come to strip the process of its hypocrisy, and accept and work with the reality of party involvement.”
Speaking on the matter on Monday, 2 December 2019, Mr Ndebugri, who had, a few days ago argued in an interview with Valentina Ofori-Afriyie on Class91.3FM’s 505 news programme that not even the President can call off the referendum, told Accra-based Citi FM that the President acted unconstitutionally when he called off the referendum.
“He [Nana Akufo-Addo] did not quote any law that supports what he did”, the former Zebilla MP said, adding: “I was just saying that if he is about to revoke, for example, the appointment of a Metropolitan, Municipal or District Chief Executive, he says that I am doing that under Article so-so-and-so of the Constitution. If he is going to pass an Executive Instrument, he says: ‘I am issuing this Executive Instrument pursuant to Article so-so-so-so of the Constitution”.
“Under which law did he [President] do this thing? And I have said that the instrument concerning the referendum is no more within the authority of the Executive, it has left there. If you go to Article 290, it is very clear the Executive has finished its work. It Gazetted this thing six months ago,” the ex-MP noted
The Bill, he said, “is now before the Electoral Commission”, adding: “If we had a truly independent Electoral Commission, if I were in control of the Electoral Commission, I would ignore this and go ahead and conduct the referendum and report to Parliament. That is what independence means”.