The Coalition for the Election of District Chief Executives (CED) on Tuesday presented a petition to the Constitution Review Implementation Committee (CRIC), urging it to project the local level election of metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs).
The Coalition, which is non-partisan, was purposely to fight for the rights of people at the local level and believes that allowing the people themselves to choose their local governance leaders would enhance accountability and ensure massive development at the local level.
Mr Nii Allotey Brew Hammond, Convener of the Coalition, explained that the essence of petition was to let the CRIC consider the proposal to allow the “people elect directly their own local chief executives”.
The petition was, therefore, in direct opposition to the Government’s White Paper on the Report of the Constitution Review Commission of Inquiry on the mode of selecting MMDCEs.
The government’s proposal was that “Article 243(1) of the Constitution should be amended for the President to nominate a minimum of five persons who would be vetted by the Public Services Commission (PSC) for competence after which three nominees would contest in a public election”.
It was the view of the CED that those local areas remained underdeveloped mainly because the leaders, the MMDCEs are selected by one person – the President- based on political patronage and, therefore, owed no allegiance or accountability to the local people.
When the people freely elected their own chief executives, they would vote them out if they did not deliver at the next election, he said.
Mr Hammond said the position of the CED was that if the Constitution was amended in consonance with the government’s proposal as contained in the White Paper, local development would continue to be dictated by the seat of Central Government and would, therefore, not be based on the urgent priorities and needs of the local people.
Moreover, the Coalition believes that the appointment of MMDCEs, the selection of one-third of the membership of the district assemblies and even the selection of candidates for the election of MMDCEs by the President was also a distortion of the concept of democracy and decentralisation, he said.
Mr Hammond said the Coalition had embarked on an on-going collection of signatures of Ghanaians who were in agreement with the proposal of local level election of MMDCEs and presented copies of more than 1000 signatures to the Committee to support their petition.
He encouraged labour unions, student groups, professional and business associations, traditional and religious leaders and all who believed in progress, change, accountability and development to collaborate with the CED to pursue the noble course.
Professor Emmanuel Victor Oware Dankwa, Chairman of CRIC, expressed the hope that the Constitution Review Commission would include the petition in its proposals for the referendum that would ensure the amendment of the 1992 Constitution.
A five-member Constitution Implementation Committee was inaugurated in October 2012 by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Dr Benjamin Kumbour, to implement the recommendations of the Government White Paper on the Constitution Review Commission.
The Committee, which is expected to complete its work by the end of the year, has been tasked to develop and report on the public reactions to the Government White Paper and the Constitution Amendment bills for both the entrenched and non-entrenched provisions of the Constitution.
Prof. Dankwa explained that the government issued a White Paper on the Constitution Review Commission’s Report and accepted many of its recommendations and rejected a few of them and this brought about the main objective of the Committee which was to implement the recommendations of the Government White Paper on the Constitution Review Commission.
He said the Committee had also been tasked to prepare the people for a referendum on the entrenched provisions of the Constitution as well as facilitate the passage of the bills for the amendment of the non- entrenched provisions of the Constitution.
The Committee, he said, would develop legislative proposals for legislative changes recommended by the Constitution Review Commission and further help in the implementation of administrative actions.