Attorney General (AG) Gloria Akuffo has withdrawn the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018 which seeks to review Article 55 (3) to allow political parties to sponsor candidates for district-level elections as well as the Bill for the amendment of Article 243 (1) for the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).
Article 55 (3) stipulates that: "Subject to the provisions of this article, a political party is free to participate in shaping the political will of the people, to disseminate information on political ideas, social and economic programmes of a national character, and sponsor candidates for elections to any public office other than to district assemblies or lower local government units."
On the other hand, Article 243 (1) of the 1992 Constitution stipulates that: "There shall be a District Chief Executive for every district who shall 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."
Had it been approved, the President will be stripped of the powers to appoint MMDCEs.
Following the intense division of public opinion on the matter, President Akufo-Addo, on Sunday, 1 December 2019, announced the cancellation of the 17 December 2019 referendum which would have paved the way for the introduction of partisan politics in the polls.
Subsequently, Ms Akuffo appeared in a Parliament on Monday, 2 December 2019, and told the House that she was seeking permission “to withdraw; 1. the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018 to amend Article 55(3) of the Constitution and 2. the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2018 to amend Article 243(1) of the Constitution which were laid before this honorable House on the 28th of May 2019 and 20th February 2019, respectively”.
Parliament is then required to inform the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana about the withdrawal of the Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) for the process to be stopped
The EC has no option than to comply and withdraw the referendum processes less than three weeks before the polls even though the election management body has announced the referendum, printed ballots and embarked on public education campaigns to educate the public on how to cast their ballot.
President Akufo-Addo said that the decision to abort the process stemmed from a lack of broad consensus on a critical matter involving the amendment of an entrenched provision of the Constitution.
“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.”