December 17 Referendum; Ghana’s Version Of Brexit?

In June 2016, after months of campaigning, the United Kingdom (UK) voted in a referendum to withdraw from the European Union.

The government formally announced the country’s withdrawal in March 2017, starting a two-year process that was due to conclude with the UK withdrawing on March 29, 2019.

The UK Parliament has on three occasions failed to ratify the negotiated agreement, with the current deadline set for January 2020.

The example of Brexit, with its accompanying problems, should remind Ghana of the path we are travelling regarding the December 17, referendum that will allow political parties to put up candidates for the District Assembly Election.

The government has activated a process to amend two clauses in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana to pave the way for the election of Metropolitan, Municipal And District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and to allow for political participation in local level elections.

Amendments are to be done to Articles 243(1) and 55(3) for election of MMDCEs and introduction of political party participation in the local elections.

The December 17, referendum seeks to amend article 55(3) to allow for political parties participation in the District Assembly Elections.

Ordinarily there ought not to be any misgivings over the proposed amendment to Article 55(3), on the contrary, it should be a welcome development in the hope that it will serve to refine the system beneficially.

However, in this instance, there is a worrisome development which has to do with the consequence that will arise, should political parties be allowed to take part in elections that are local and must be left for anyone who is interested to contest, without belonging to any of the registered political parties.

In the opinion of this newspaper, the status quo must remain as it is. Elections, have consequences, which often than not is not intended by those calling for it.

Even before the referendum, the country is divided, with Chiefs, who are usually the last resort, when we hit a snag, taking sides.

The present arrangement, where political parties are barred from putting up candidates for District Assembly Elections, have been going on without any problems, why do we want to temper with that.

As a country, although we have made significant gains in our democratic journey, it is not without the usual partisanship taking centre stage.

We have even lost the Civil and Public Servants to political parties, for a Civil or Public Servant to rise to the top, he or she must align with either the National Democratic Congress (NDC) or the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

This newspaper, align with those who argue that, the referendum to change the status quo, is not necessary.

A Yes vote, will only seek to deepen the partisanship and polarization that is already threatening our survival.


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