There was stalemate yesterday in Parliament regarding the debate on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2019, that would make it possible for the election of metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs).
The Majority New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) during the debate that characterized the second reading of the bill clashed on the amendment of Article 243 (1) of the 1992 Constitution to take away the executive power of the President to appoint MMDCEs.
The Majority NPP wanted the amendment of Article 243 (1) which states inter alia 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” to be amended to give that power to the people to elect their own MMDCEs before a referendum after which there can be any other consequential amendments in relation to the election of MMDCEs.
According to the Majority, when the first step of ceding the power of election of MMDCEs to the electorate is done, the people would realise the commitment of the government which made that promise in its manifesto that they would be allowed to elect their own MMDCEs to ensure better accountability at the district level.
The Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, argued that in principle, the Minority NDC is not against the elections of MMDCEs but the amendment of the Constitution to allow for the election of the MMDCEs must be tied simultaneously with the amendment of Article 243 (3) and Article 248 (1) and (2).
According to him, Article 248 (1) which says “a candidate seeking election to a District Assembly or any lower local government unit shall present himself to the electorate as an individual, and shall not use any symbol associated with any political party; and Article 248 (2) which says “a political party shall not endorse, sponsor, offer a platform to or in any way campaign for or against a candidate seeking election to a District Assembly or any lower local government’ must as well be amended to give proper meaning to the amendment of Article 243 (1) which Parliament is seeking to amend first.
The Minority Leader said all the reservations expressed by the Minority must be critically considered because the majority NPP does not have overwhelming number to get two-thirds votes in Parliament to have that amendment go through.
The Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, also the NPP MP for Akwapim South, O. B. Amoah accused the Minority of ‘double standards’ after supporting the election of the MMDCEs during various public fora on the subject matter and coming to the floor of the House to oppose it.
He said if all the hierarchy of the NDC including their national officers could attend various stakeholders’ meetings to endorse such a proposal by the government and turn round to oppose the move, then the sincerity of the opposition is clearly in doubt.
According to him, if the power of electing MMDCEs is not taken from the President and given to the electorate they cannot be asked whether the election of the MMDCEs should be on partisan basis or not.
He, therefore, asked the Minority to rethink their position and support the government’s intention to allow for the election of MMDCEs.
The First Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei-Owusu, who was presiding, decided to defer the vote on the second reading because of the clear disagreement between the Majority and the Minority for consensus building.
Source: Daily Guide
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