Cancel Referendum – Human Rights and Governance Centre calls
Lawyer Martin Kpebu

Civil Society Organization, The Human Rights and Governance Centre, is calling for the cancellation of the upcoming 2019 national referendum.

According to the Centre, it is not advisable to allow political participation at the local level.

Speaking to Citi News, Director of the Centre and renowned lawyer, Martin Kpebu, explained that partisan politics at the national level has been anything but satisfactory thus the need to cancel the referendum.

“They [people] are not happy with the NDC – NPP way of politics. So, let’s keep the current system the way it is. Certainly, on Thursday, Parliament is going to vote on the election of the mayors, DCEs, MMDCEs and decide on that bill. All things being equal, Parliament is going to pass that law, so that the DCEs can be elected. That is sufficient. Let’s take it one day at a time. As for making it on partisan lines, I am strongly opposed. I am voting NO. Not just NO, we are calling for a cancellation of the referendum.”

Ghanaians are scheduled to go to the polls on December 17 to vote on the proposed amendment of the constitutional provision that prevents political participation in the District Level Elections.

It is to allow political parties to participate in the District Level Elections.

A successful passage of the proposed amendment to Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution will imply that political parties would be able to sponsor candidates for election to District Assemblies or Lower Local Government Units.

The outcome will have either of the following outcomes: If the electorate votes YES, the election of MMDCEs, Assembly and Unit Committee Members in the near future will be on a partisan basis.

If they vote NO, then the election of these candidates for the local level elections will be on a non-partisan basis as being practised now.

Whereas some groups including the governing New Patriotic Party are advocating for a YES vote, the opposition National Democratic Congress does not share in that ideology.

According to the NDC, when District Assembly elections are made partisan, there will be party-motivated projects and programmes such as ‘NDC Communal Labour Day’ and ‘NPP Communal Labour Day’, particularly in rural areas.

NDC Chairman, Samuel Ofosu Ampofo had said a YES vote, will open district assemblies and unit committees to “the needless NDC-NPP polarization.”

“We upheld the view that the local government system should remain non-partisan and that individuals contest the District Assembly and Unit Committee elections on their own merit. We therefore decided to campaign for a NO vote at the referendum and to urge all Ghanaians to vote NO at the referendum. It is our well-considered view, and indeed that of well-meaning Ghanaians, that the needless NDC-NPP polarization at the national level should not be extended into the District Assemblies and Unit Committees, which is what will happen if we vote to make the local government system partisan.”

Some of the members of the National House of Chiefs have also kicked against a YES vote.