According to him, his government will work to attain a broad national consensus on the referendum.
"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."
About the referendum
The referendum was to determine whether Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution should be amended for political parties to sponsor candidates for local level elections.
The outcome of the referendum will have either of the following outcomes: If the electorate votes YES, the election of MMDCEs, Assembly and Unit Committee Members will be on a partisan basis.
If they vote NO, then the election of theMMDCEs, Assembly and Unit Committee Members will be on a non-partisan basis, as being practised now.
Arguments surrounding Referendum
The referendum has sharply divided the country with the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference calling for a postponement.
Vice-President of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference (GCBC), Most Rev. Charles Palmer-Buckle, has said given the current poisoned political environment there was a need to postpone the December 17 referendum.
“We the Bishops are appealing to the Government and the Electoral Commission to postpone the Referendum since it would not cause any Constitutional crisis,” Archbishop Palmer-Buckle said at the Jubilee House recently.
Traditional leaders, on the other hand, are also divided on the referendum after the Chairman of the Governance Committee of the National House of Chiefs; Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II disclosed that the posture of the House for a NO vote did not represent the concerted views of the chiefs.
Watch the President's address below
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