The Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) has urged the government to revisit recommendations made by the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) on the amendment of some sections of the 1992 Constitution to consolidate the country’s democratic dispensation.
It asked the government to immediately resume discussions on the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) to consolidate democratic gains.
Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, Executive Director of IDEG, who made the call at an engagement with selected media practitioners in Accra, said the amendments would consolidate democratic gains and address short falls.
The meeting was to update the media on proposals for local governance reforms, solicit their views on how they can increase citizens’ awareness, mobilise broad based support and assistance to reconstruct and transform more than29 years’ system.
The Constitution Review Commission, set up by the late President Professor Atta Mills in January 2010, to consult with the citizenry on operation of1992 Constitution and any changes needed to be made to it, and calls for amendment of 97 articles, including 41 entrenched clauses, however, the recommendations have been ignored by subsequent governments more than a decade after they were made.
Dr Akwetey observed that, “the government must take a look at recommendations and see how best such proposals can be amended to strengthen democracy and bring progress, growth and development to citizens.
“Even though it is impossible to amend all 97 articles at a go without triggering constitutional crisis, sections that can be changed through parliamentary procedure must immediately begin to allow for better education, sensitisation and create public awareness to enable them make informed decisions.
“The 30 years we have had has opened our eyes to some issues we can do to strengthen the system, overcome weaknesses, build on those rather than tolerating everything and then system collapses even though both positions will require constitutional amendment to enable proposals to be implemented, building consensus will facilitate processes,” Dr Akwetey pointed out.
Kwesi Jonah, Senior Research Fellow at IDEG, reiterated the need for establishment of an independent regulatory body to check conduct of political parties to bring sanity to democratic system and appeal for the establishment of multiparty democracy fund to support and assist political parties and level playing field for minor parties to thrive.
Between 2018 and 2019, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government pursued amendment of Article 55(3) to enable multiparty participation at metropolitan, municipal and districts and 243(1) for election of MMDCEs, to reform local governance system and devolve more power and resources to communities.
However, the national referendum scheduled for December 17, 2019, was cancelled for lack of adequate public knowledge and broad-based consensus on reforms it will entail.Since then, both NPP and National Democratic Congress (NDC) have restated commitment to reset and pursue local government reforms.
While NPP’s agenda on local government reforms include direct, popular election of MMDCEs, legalisation of political parties’ participation in local government, devolution of more power and resources to local authorities, NDC propose election of MMDCEs, implementing recommendations on local government and decentralisation by Constitutional Review Implementation Committee.