Parliament has rejected the passage of the Constitutional Amendment Bill 2016, which was seeking to change the date for holding Ghana’s election from December 7, to the first Monday of November in election years.
According to Citi News’ Duke Opoku Mensah, “the Bill could not garner the 184 votes needed” for its passage.
Out of the 275 members of parliament, 125 Members of the Parliament voted for the November 7 date, whiles 95 voted against it, with 45 being absent from the House.
Announcing the results of Thursday’s secret balloting, the Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, said, “the results of the secret ballots are as follows, the I’s 125, No’s 95. Honourable members, Article 291 clause 3 requires that Parliament needs at least the votes of two-third of all members of Parliament to approve the Bill at the second reading stage and that two-thirds is 184, because the two thirds of 275 is 183.333. Therefore the constitution amendment Bill 2016 is rejected at the second reading.”
AG was in Parliament to push for the Bill’s passage
Before voting today [Thursday], the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, made an attempt to canvass support for the passage of the Bill.
The AG on the floor of Parliament contended that, changing the dates will ease the stress in government transitions by providing ample time.
Joe Osei Owusu disagrees
But the Minority Spokesperson on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Joe Osei Wusu, cast doubts over the preparedness of the Electoral Commission.
He argued that the electoral calendar is tight and may cause problems if the EC still wants to run the election in November. He further cited delays in the procurement of election materials and training of election officers as some of the many reasons why the polls on the new date might not be feasible.
Currently, the date set aside in respect of the conduct of both presidential and parliamentary elections in the country is December 7, while the swearing-in of the elected President is January 7 of the following year.
However, concerns have been raised that the one-month period for the transition of one government to another, is insufficient for a smooth transition, especially in instances of a run-off as was the case in the years 2000 and 2008.
In the light of the apparent weakness in the electoral system and following the election petition in 2012, the Electoral Reform Committee was established on January 23, 2015, to propose reforms to the country’s electoral system.
The committee comprised representatives of the EC.