By Ken Sackey/Benjamin Mensah, GNA
Accra, July 21, GNA – Ghana cannot go to the polls on November 7 and would have to stick to original date of December 7 for the conduct of the 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections.
This is because the two/thirds majority needed by Parliament to give legal backing to the amendment of the 1992 Constitution for the new date could not be reached.
A secret ballot conducted by the house on Thursday after the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mrs Marita Brew-Appiah has moved the motion produced 125 in favour and 95 against. The number needed to make the effective change of date from December 7 to November 7 was to be 184 per the number of legislators that cast their votes.
Mr Magnus Kofi Amoatey, Chairman of the Constitutional Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee expressed disappointment about the results but indicated however that the results to him would give him more time to campaign in his constituency.
Mr Boniface Gambila Member of Parliament for Namdam, said the result is a victory for democracy because it expresses the sentiment of the representative of the people.
He said the minority was in principles not against the November 7 proposal and indicated however that the rejection was due to the fact that the EC and the Attorney General did not bring the Bill to the House on time.
He mentioned that the time constraint between now and November 7 would have created problems for the elections because a number of things such as the exhibition of the voter register and making the electoral register available to the political parties all have to be attended to.
The Speaker of Parliament Edward Korbly Doe Adjaho urged Parliament on Friday, June 29, to start the process to amend portions of the 1992 Constitution to give legal backing to the change in the date of the impending General Election from December 7 to November 7.
The amendment sought to make the first Monday of November of an election year, the tentative national date for general election. The proposed date for this year’s general election, also falls on a Monday.
The Bill, was to amend Article 112 of the 1992 Constitution to give constitutional backing to the change of the date for parliamentary elections.
Dr Dominic Ayine, the Deputy Attorney General and Deputy Minister of Justice, who is also the MP for Bolgatanga East, tabled the Bill for the first reading.
The Speaker of Parliament after the presentation that day referred the Bill to the Council of State for consideration and advice.
The Constitution Amendment Bill 2016 was published twice in the Gazette, with the second publication having been made at least three months after the first.
At least 10 days had passed after the second publication, hence the laying of the Bill in Parliament.
The Speaker, referring the Bill to the Council of State, said he had done all the necessary checks and he was sure the Bill was ready to be presented for the first reading.
In accordance with article 291 (2), the Speaker shall, after the first reading of the Bill in Parliament; refer it to the Council of State for consideration and advice and the Council of State shall render advice on the bill within 30 days after receiving it.
“I have done the necessary checks and this requirements of notice (Article 291 (a)) have been complied with and it is my responsibility in terms of the constitution to refer the Bill to the Council of State and I so refer,” he said.
The Bill is to amend article 112(4) of the Constitution to make provision for Parliamentary Elections to be held well ahead of the expiration of the tenure of Parliament to ensure an effective and smooth transition.
Currently, the dates set in respect of the conduct of both Presidential and Parliamentary elections in the country is the December 7, while the swearing-in of the President takes place on January 7 in the ensuing year.
However, the one month period for the transition of one government to the other, has over the years proved insufficient for a smooth transition, particularly, in instances where there is a run-off as was the case in 2000 and 2008.
One of the recommendations made by the Electoral Reform Committee after the election petition in 2013 was a change in the date for the conduct of general election from December 7, to the first Monday of November 7, in an election year in order to have elections on a specific day, instead of having elections on a specific date.GNA