The Electoral Commission has to scale a huge constitutional hurdle to legitimise a widely accepted view to change the date for general elections from December 7 to November 7.
The Majority and Minority sides in Parliament warn that the process to ratify this change is “elaborate”, ‘tedious’, ‘time-consuming’ and long drawn.
For the Minority, they have an extra warning for the Electoral Commission Chairperson, Mrs Charlotte Osei to re-examine her posture towards the opposition who believe she is unaccommodating.
The Electoral Commission confirmed in October 2015, it plans to effect a historic change in Ghana’s election timetable.
The December 7 date, after six elections since 1992, is no longer considered convenient. If a candidate fails to secure the 50% plus one vote needed to win the Presidential elections, a run-off must be held 21 days later.
It means the winner of the elections can only be known after 28 December. It leaves only 10 days to complete the period of transition in case of a new government which has to be sworn in on January 7 of the new year.
The lessons learnt from 2000 and 2008 general elections show that this 10-day gap puts a lot of pressure on the exiting government to prepare to hand over the reins of power.
There is a general consensus among political players that the change in the timetable is desirable.
But explaining the constitutional processes to legitimize this consensus, the Majority Leader Alban Bagbin told Joy News, that the Amendment bill must be gazette twice. After it is first gazetted, a period of three months is needed before the second gazette.
It takes 10 days after the second gazette after which the bill is pushed to the Council of State for further consideration until it finally comes back to parliament.
In parliament, the MPs are required to hold wide consultation with the public before a vote is cast.
Unlike other bills, this amendment bill needs a super-majority before it can become law. It means if any side of the divide has issues with the bill, the whole deal to change the date is scuttled.
Aware of the need for deeper cooperation with the Minority in Parliament, the NPP has signaled it could be unwilling to cooperate with the EC.
Deputy Minority leader Dominic Ntiwul has raised questions about the EC chairperson’s posture and neutrality.
‘At times she is cheeky’, Ntiwul complained and it is ‘very clear’ that Charlotte Osei is leaning towards the ruling party, NDC.
He said under her leadership non-functional parties have been ‘resurrected’ to oppose the NPP during meetings of all political parties with the EC, known as IPAC.
He cited the moribund Reformed Party formed by Gossie Tanoh in 1999 who broke away from the NDC.
The party has not contested any election for the past 16 years.
The Deputy Minority leader also reminded that the EC has a court order to remove some names from the voters’ register and re-register others.
Cleaning the voters’ register could affect the Electoral Commission’s plans to get a law passed to change the date.
“We shouldn’t take things for granted,” he warned.