The Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), Ms Josephine Nkrumah, has stated that the amendment of Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution will allow political parties to participate in district level elections and promote true participatory democracy.
She explained that the process would empower the citizens to directly elect competent leaders who would work for the development of communities, leading to the provision of quality of services and the promotion of good inclusive local governance.
She, therefore, urged Ghanaians to fully participate in the upcoming district level elections, as well as the referendum on December 17 to amend the entrenched provision that bans political parties from taking part in district level elections.
Ms Nkrumah made the appeal in Bolgatanga during the regional launch of a public sensitisation and awareness raising campaign of the district level elections and referendum for the amendment of Article 55 (3) of the Constitution.
Currently, the Constitution has vested only the President with the authority to nominate and subsequently appoint various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and has further banned political parties from sponsoring candidates in the district level elections.
The referendum, which is scheduled to take place alongside the district level elections, seeks to amend Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution, which is an entrenched provision, to allow political parties to participate in local government elections, including the election of MMDCEs and assembly members along party lines.
Parliament has already begun the process to amend Article 243 (1) to allow MMDCEs to be elected directly by the electorates and when the proposal is approved during the referendum, MMDCEs and assembly members would be elected directly by the electorates and on political party lines.
“The referendum must garner at least 40 per cent voter turn out of the total registered voters in the country and at least 75 per cent of that number must vote yes to the proposal,” Ms Nkrumah said.
She said over the years, district level elections had recorded low patronage with 35 per cent being the highest turn out to have ever been recorded.
Ms Nkrumah said civic education was a shared responsibility and called on all key stakeholders, including MMDCEs, religious and traditional leaders, to assist the commission to intensify the sensitisation drive to make the citizenry appreciate the significance of the December 17 referendum.
The Regional Director of the NCCE, Mr Pontius Pilate Baba Apaabey, said the commission was undertaking the nationwide exercise in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the Electoral Commission and the Information Services Department.
He called on the youth to fully participate in the referendum and the district level elections.
The Deputy Upper East Regional Minister, Mr Frank Adongo Fuseini, said the election of MMDCEs by the electorate would eliminate the winner takes all syndrome and improve the quality of governance at the local level.