President Akufo-Addo has described the National Democratic Congress’ spectacular U-turn on the botched December 17 referendum as unfortunate and an act of bad faith.
He said the path chosen by the opposition party does not depict national cohesion, and has served as a major setback in transforming the country’s decentralization structure.
The largest opposition party a few weeks ago urged voters to vote ‘NO’ on December 17 referendum, which would have allowed political parties participate in district-level elections in the country.
The NDC’s call attracted widespread criticism from government officials and the rank and file of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).
In a televised speech on Sunday, President Akufo-Addo announced the decision to halt the processes for the referendum after “broad consultation with other stakeholders”.
“I thought there was general consensus after meetings with three of my predecessors, but the sudden U-turn of the National Democratic Congress have left me with no other option than to further engage other stakeholders,” President Akufo-Addo added.
“On Tuesday 18th April 2017, a little over 4 months into my mandate I held a meeting with my three predecessors; Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor and John Dramani Mahama to seek their views and counsel on these issues.
“I came away from that meeting with a view that there was a consensus amongst us that the time has come for political parties to participate openly in District Assembly elections and local government. Indeed, amongst leadership and members of parliament, the clear indications were that there was a broad national consensus for the repeal of Article 53,” he said.
He noted that such an amendment shouldn’t have driven as a party matter but there should be a clear national consensus and agreement amongst the populists that the provision in the constitution no longer serves the interest of Ghanaians.
“The time has come to strip the process of its hypocrisy, and accept and work with the reality of party involvement. It is on this basis that I proceeded in subsequently instructing the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development to initiate a parliamentary process for the repeal of Article 55(3) of the Constitution.”
The referendum seeks to, among other things, amend Article 55, Clause 3 of the 1992 Constitution to enable political parties to participate in district-level elections.
Article 55 (3), is an entrenched clause, which currently bans political party activity in district-level elections, It requires a referendum and a turnout of at least 40% and over 75% voters in favour of the proposal, to amend the Article.
The referendum has sharply divided the country with the Ghaha Catholic Bishops’ Conference calling for a postponement.