Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and Member of Parliament for Suame constituency, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, has dismissed suggestions that the President, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo, lacks the locus to suspend the December 17 referendum if he so desires. According to him, as an executive arm of government, the President has the power to cause it to be suspended.
Prez Can’t “Arrest” Process
Earlier this week, a constitutional lawyer, John Ndebugre, indicated that there is no provision in the constitution that allows the President to abort the process which has already been set in motion. His comments are in tandem with the position of the Minority in Parliament. The referendum is to decide on the amendment of Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution on whether or not political parties should be allowed to sponsor candidates in local level elections.
But speaking on Okay FM’s Ade Akye Abia program, the MInister for Parliamentary Affairs explained that the President can authorize its suspension through the local government. “The government is the main sponsor of the referendum and per the constitution, he can ask the minister for local government to write to parliament and ask for the suspension of the referendum exercise which will be granted by parliament,” he pointed out.
The Suame MP expressed surprise at threats by the Minority to go to court if the President decides to suspend the referendum exercise. “However, with discussions and further consultation government stands by its position and has no intentions or whatsoever to have the referendum suspended,” he added.
Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, is on record to have stated that Nana Akufo-Addo has no power to pull the plug and halt the upcoming December 17, 2019 referendum. According to him, once the President has started the process for the referendum which is to decide on whether or not political parties should be allowed to sponsor candidates in local level elections, he must go through it for the people to decide.
He said as provided in Article 290 of the 1992 Constitution, “once the President has triggered the process, he is obliged and mandated by law to go the full course like a medical dosage,” Mr. Iddrisu said in a radio interview with Accra based Joy Fm.
Mr. Iddrisu argued that Article 290 applies to the amendment of entrenched provisions in the constitution and Article 55 (3) which is to be amended at the referendum is also an entrenched provision and therefore the President is mandated by Article 290 that the bill for the amendment should go the full course. Following the break down of consensus for a YES vote in the upcoming referendum, there have been calls for the referendum to be halted by withdrawing it or postponing it.