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02.02.2004 General News

NDC MPs disagree on partys fortunes

By Chronicle
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Two leading Members of Parliament (MP) of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), John Mahama and Cletus Avoka, have expressed contradictory views about the fortunes of the NDC if the Electoral Commission (EC) goes ahead with the proposed creation of 30 new electoral constituencies and have them contested for in the coming general elections in December.

John Mahama, who is the communications director of the NDC, and MP for Bole Bamboi, was on Monday, last week reported in a front page story of this paper to have stated that the NDC had no fears about the proposed creation of 30 new constituencies, adding that if indeed the constituencies were created and were to be contested for in the December general elections the NDC will win 20 out of the 30 constituencies.

Though the communications director said his prediction was based on analysis made on the makeup of the proposed constituencies, his colleague from Bawku West, Cletus Avoka, says he shares a different opinion altogether.

Hon Avoka, Minister for Lands and Forestry in the NDC regime, said in an exclusive interview with The Chronicle that the NDC winning even half of the new seats, if created and contested for, was practically impossible.

“The 30 new constituencies if contested for in the upcoming elections would favour the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) while the NDC will be at the disadvantaged end,” he stated.

Explaining his point, the MP observed that if, in the first place, the NPP was aware that the makeup of the proposed 30 new constituencies would not favour it, it would have been pushing for their creation.

“The fact that the ruling NPP is in favour of the creation of the new constituencies and having them contested for in the December general election should give clear signals that the party knows it will annex all or a majority of the seats by employing to the maximum the advantages of incumbency,” the legislator opined.

On why the NDC would be disadvantaged, he expatiated that as far as the 2004 electoral campaign was concerned, the NPP was 50% ahead of the NDC. This, he said, was because of the role of the District chief Executives (DCEs) and what he described as the almost politicized policies and activities of the Ministry of Women ande Children’s Affairs.

“Based on these things, I think it will be difficult to believe that the NDC will have an upper hand if the proposed constituencies are contested for, in the next general elections in December,” he emphasized.

Hon. Avoka, a lawyer by profession, agreed that sections of Article 47(5) empower the EC to review the current electoral constituencies, but noted that the same article 47(6) makes any attempt to have the new constituencies contested for in the 2004 general election illegal, and the timing would also make such an attempt economically and morally inappropriate.

Article 47(5) of the 1992 constitution states, “The Electoral Commission shall review the division of Ghana into constituencies at intervals of not less than seven years or within twelve months after the publication of the enumeration figures after the holding of a census of the population of Ghana, whichever is earlier, and may, as a result, alter the constituencies.”

Article 47(6) of the same document also states, “Where the boundaries of a constituency established under this article are altered as a result of a review, the alteration shall come into effect upon the next dissolution of Parliament.”

Based on these two clauses of article 47 of the constitution, the proposed creation of 30 new constituencies, by the EC and possibly have them contested for in the December 2004 general elections has become a subject of debate among minority and majority MPs, as well as other politicians and political commentators.

Meanwhile, the chairman of the EC, Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan has dared critics of the EC on this proposal to go to court on the matter or keep mute about it.

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