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28.11.2019 General News

Postpone December 17th Referendum – Group To Gov’t

By News Desk
Postpone December 17th Referendum – Group To Gov’t

A youth development organisation committed to the promotion of an equitable and inclusive society, the Youth Bridge Foundation (YBF) has backed calls for government to postpone the December 17 referendum.

According to the group, government should build a consensus else it would be impossible for the referendum to get the needed 75 percent confirmation by at least 40 percent of registered voters.

A statement issued by the Foundation urged the government, “to hold on with the referendum and engage all stakeholders more on the needed reforms at the local government level after which the consensus reached would be put to a referendum.”

“We call on government to put the referendum on hold; build bipartisan consensus; and ensure massive sensitization and education of the citizenry, particularly the youth, to promote youth meaningful participation in democratic processes consistent with Article 11 of African Youth Charter and also in a manner which whips up popular enthusiasm as a national and not partisan responsibility,” the statement said.

Among other demands, the organisation is urging government “to genuinely reach out to the opposition to build consensus as the opposition also cooperates with the government when there are genuine overtures to build bridges on the issues.”

There is divided opinion on the referendum with the two major political parties sharing divergent views with the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) arguing that government has not held even a single engagement with them on the upcoming exercise.

YBF further called on development partners to support the relevant civil society organizations, to work in partnership with the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to undertake a nationwide non-partisan public education on the core issues of the referendum taking cognizance of the varying levels of youth literacy.

Calls to postpone the referendum

With a few weeks to the December 17th referendum, there have been divided opinions on the issue with many stakeholders calling for a postponement.

Traditional leaders are also divided after the Chairman of the Governance Committee of the National House of Chiefs, Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II disclosed that the posture of the House for a NO vote did not represent the concerted views of the chiefs.

December 17 Referendum

The referendum is to decide on a possible amendment of Article 55 (3) of the 1992 Constitution to permit political parties sponsor candidates for the local level elections.

Article 55(3) states that “subject to the provisions of this article, a political party is free to participate in shaping the political will of the people, to disseminate information on political ideas, social and economic programmes of a national character and sponsor candidates for elections to any public office other than to District Assemblies or lower local government units''.

Although a Bill is in Parliament to amend the constitution, Article 55 (3) is considered as an entrenched clause hence can only be revised after a referendum.

The outcome of the referendum will have either of the following outcomes: If the electorate votes YES, the election of MMDCEs, Assembly and Unit Committee Members in the near future will be on a partisan basis.

If they vote NO, then the election of these candidates for the local level elections will be on a non-partisan basis as being practised now.

Click here for full statement.