Nana Soglo IV, President of the Volta Regional House of Chiefs has expressed concerns over calls for election of Assembly members on political party lines following calls for the amendment of Article 55 (3).
He said it meant "independent minded citizens" would not stand a chance of becoming an Assembly member unless one was a member of political party and called for another look at the proposal.
The President of the Regional House of Chiefs said though he was in favour of election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives, it should not be done on political party lines, saying "I can foresee a situation where these elected Assembly members and officers will put the interest of their parties first as against the interest of the Districts they serve."
Nana Soglo was speaking at the launch of the Ho Diocesan sensitisation programme by the Catholic Church on the upcoming referendum on the theme; "Participation of political parties and citizens in District level elections."
He said chiefs played little or no direct role in local administrative governance of the country by the Local Government Amendment Act, 1959, which led to the removal of chiefs from participating in local governance.
Nana Sogli said the role of chiefs through that amendment had been reduced to only being consulted by the President in the appointment of 30 per cent unelected members of the Assembly, adding "something presidents do not often do, and now with the amendment being proposed this luxury would even be denied us."
He said the National House of Chiefs at a workshop organized by the Institute for Democratic Governance put forward two proposals, which demanded that the 30 per cent Government appointees enjoyed by the President under Article 242 be reserved for chiefs and Local Development Advisory Council, comprising chiefs and queen mothers.
Nana Soglo said that would afford traditional rulers the opportunity to bring their rich wisdom, knowledge and experience to bear on development, conflict resolution and cultural modernization in local governance.
He also lamented that local Assemblies and Regional Coordinating Councils, which allowed two representatives from the Regional House of Chiefs, scarcely invited them to their meetings and must be addressed.
Mr James Gunu, Volta Regional Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), said the NDC also had plans for election of MMDCEs in 2016 but in a different form not to 'kill' the spirit of non-partisan aspects of local governance.
"Amendment of the Article 55 (3) is the key to open doors to many successes and many challenges," he said, adding that hopes of the citizenry must not be raised as if the election of MMDCEs on political party lines would solve every problem with the local government system.
Mr Kenneth Kponor, Volta Regional Director, National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), said the referendum was not the election of MMDCEs but rather the introduction of the necessary reforms under Article 55 (3) that would enable multi-partisanship at the district level election.
He said the citizenry as key stakeholders must know the merits and demerits of the amendment so that they could make informed decision.
Reverend Seth Mawutor, Volta Regional Chairman of the Christian Council of Churches, said the critical issues about the election of the MMDCEs were the 40 per cent turn out and 75 per cent votes on December 17 and the amendment of the non-entrenched Article 243 (1) by two-third majority vote of Parliament.
He said to achieve the 40 per cent turn out and 75 per cent votes; Parliament should amend the non-entrenched Article 243 (1) before the referendum would pave way for the amendment of Article 55 (3).