The December 17 National Referendum jigsaw intensifies as leading personalities, political parties, local government experts, Ministers of State, traditional and religious leaders pitched camp either to canvas for a Yes or No vote.
Mr Solomon Tettey Appiah, Municipal Chief Executive (MCE) for the Kpone Katamanso Municipal Assembly (KKMA) has mounted citizens’ campaign for a YES, urging the electorate to massively vote to allow political parties to actively participate in the District Level Elections.
Mr Appiah explained that voting Yes in the referendum meant that government had to cede some of its local government powers to the people, “this will deepen Ghana’s democratic credentials and give true meaning to the decentralisation drive”.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency at Kpone near Tema on the sidelines of grand durbar organised on the Referendum, Mr Appiah noted that, too much power was concentrated with the central government.
“Delegating some of such powers to the citizens would rather promote inclusiveness and create the aura for development,” he said.
He again called on residents in Kpone Katamanso to show interest in the forthcoming District Level Elections and elect hard working candidates to the Assembly to help develop their electoral areas.
A 10-member Election Security Task Force was also inaugurated and charged with the mandate to ensure that the District Level Election and the Referendum was conducted in a credible, peaceful and transparent manner.
Members of the election task force included; the Municipal Police Commander, Municipal Election Director, and Municipal Director for NCCE and other high profile personalities within the municipality.
Residents were given the opportunity to ask questions and make suggestions as the resource officers took turn to address their concerns.
Meanwhile, the NCCE has explained that the December 17, National Referendum is about a simply task, whether as a citizen; “you want political parties to participate in District Level Elections or not. That is what voting Yes or No stands for.”
Ms Josephine Nkrumah, NCCE Chairperson told the Ghana News Agency in an interview that, the Referendum was only to determine whether Ghanaians wanted political parties to participate in district level governance or not.
The NCCE Chairperson explained that; “the Referendum is only about Ghanaians voting either YES to allow political parties to participate in District Level Elections or NO to let the status quo prevail where political parties do not participate in district level elections”.
She said December 17 Referendum is to enable citizens to vote on the proposed amendment of Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution that currently bars political parties from participating in District Level Elections (DLEs).
Article 55 (3) states 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”.
She explained that it was an entrenched provision, which can only be amended through a Referendum which per Article 290(4) can be approved when at least 40 per cent of persons entitled to vote, at the referendum and at least 75 per cent of the persons who vote cast their votes in favour of passing the bill.
The NCCE Chairperson noted that on December 17, every electorate was required to undertake three basic steps when he or she entered the polling stations to vote: first vote on the Referendum, secondly vote for one candidate as Assembly Member and thirdly vote for at most five candidates as Unit Committee members.
Ms Nkrumah noted that the amendment to the 1992 Constitution to allow the electorate to elect Metropolitan, Municipal, or District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) was currently before Parliament and as soon as it was done, “we will then elect our MMDCEs”.