Former President John Mahama has denied claims by President Akufo-Addo that consensus was reached in a meeting with former presidents on allowing party politics in the election of Metropolitan Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs). According to him, although the matter came up at the meeting, the parties never made definite conclusions on it. President Akufo-Addo, in announcing the cancellation of the December 17 referendum and order for the withdrawal of an amendment Bill to allow Ghanaians to vote for the election of MMDCEs on Sunday said:
“On Tuesday, 18th April, 2017, a little over four (4) months into my mandate, I held a meeting with my three predecessors, the 1st, 2nd and 4th Presidents of the 4th Republic, their Excellencies Jerry John Rawlings, John Agyekum Kufuor, and John Dramani Mahama, at Jubilee House, to seek their views and counsel on these issues. I came away from that meeting with the view that there was consensus amongst us that the time had come for political parties to participate openly in district assembly elections and local governance.”
But John Mahama said consensus was reached on other matters that came up at the meeting but not on the politicization local government elections. “President Rawlings did not express any firm stand. On that particular matter, there was no consensus, even though we discussed it.” He said although the parties at the meeting agreed on other matters, they did not come to an agreement on the issue of election of MMDCEs on partisan lines.
“We achieved consensus on some issues to do with welfare, [and] the creation of new regions but on the issue of election of MMDCEs we did not achieve consensus. President Akufo-Addo and President Kufuor, at the time were more for political parties participating in the nomination of the MMDCEs,” Mahama said.
Bills withdrawn from Parliament
Meanwhile, Parliament has approved the withdrawal of the Bills intended to amend Articles 243(1) and 55(3) of the Constitution that border on the election of Metropolitan Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) and making local level elections partisan.
The withdrawal follows an announcement by President Akufo-Addo on Sunday calling for the cancellation of processes to amend the two constitutional provisions over some major controversies surrounding the amendment process that included a scheduled December 17 referendum.The referendum was to decide on the amendment of Article 55(3) of the Constitution to enable political parties to sponsor candidates for local level elections while the amendment of Article 243(1) was to allow for the election of MMDCEs.
Per Article 243 (1) of the 1992 Constitution, District Chief Executives for every district are to be appointed by the President with the prior approval of not less than two-thirds majority of members of the assembly present and voting at the meeting. The New Patriotic Party (NPP) government commenced processes to have that changed as it promised in its 2016 manifesto to take away the powers of the President to appoint MMDCEs and make it possible to have been elected by universal adult suffrage.
But the process was hit with a major blow when the opposition, National Democratic Congress (NDC) as well as other stakeholders started advocating for a ‘NO’ vote in the referendum. The party argued that it was only worried that an amendment to Article 55 (3) will open district assemblies and unit committees to “the needless NDC-NPP polarisation.”