Obuasi West MP Kwaku Kwarteng says he “personally feels” it is too late to change the date of the general election from December as Parliament sits to decide on a crucial amendment bill.
Kwaku Kwarteng explained that other outstanding issues for the Electoral Commission could frustrate its own plans to make an historic change to hold the elections in November.
Parliament is preparing to vote on the Amendment Bill 2016 that seeks to change the December date which has been in place since 1992.
The Electoral Commission has been planning since October 2015 to concretize plans to change the date.
It is generally accepted that the December 7 general elections date leaves insufficient time for a proper transition. If a new government is elected it would have to be sworn in within a month, which is on January 7 of the next year.
Unlike other bills, Parliament requires the support of the Minority to obtain two-thirds majority needed to pass this bill.
According to Kwaku Kwarteng, even if Parliament gets the super majority, the Electoral Commission will still be faced with another constitutional hurdle.
“There is the need for another constitutional instrument to come to fix the date and [it will take another] 21 sitting days of parliament [before it is passed] but parliament is rising at the end of this month”.
The MPs are keen to end parliamentary duties to go campaign ahead of the general elections this year.
Kwaku Kwarteng is concerned that for the November date change to be effected, MPs would have to suspend plans to campaign and sit through parliament for 21 extra days.
“Does it mean that parliament will have to be recalled to sit for 21 sitting days in order for the CI to mature?” he expressed concern on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Thursday.
Apart from this constitutional hurdle, Kwaku Kwarteng is concerned that the EC “has so much to do before the elections”.
There is the need for a continuous registration exercise and the EC has started a voter exhibition exercise.
“Is the EC able to do all that before the new change of date? These are the issues that affect the members of parliament not even just on the Minority side but even the Majority”.
The Minority has been signaling that it will not support the Majority to pass the Bill. Deputy Minority Leader, Dominic Nitiwul once expressed concern about the posture of the chairperson of the Electoral Commission, Mrs Charlotte Osei.
He said the chairperson appears to be leaning towards the governing party, the NDC.
It remains to be seen if the amendment bill will be passed as Parliament sits Thursday. The Attorney-General and Justice Minister Marrietta Brew Appiah-Opong was in parliament to move the motion for a second reading.
“Respectfully Mr Speaker, I move that constitutional amendment bill 2016 be now read the second time”, she said.
She explained that it is to amend article 112 clause (4) which states inter alia; “subject to clause two of 113 of this Constitution a general election of Members of Parliament shall be held within 30 days before the expiration of the period specified in clause (1) of that article and a session of Parliament shall be appointed to commence within 14 days after the expiration of that period”.
If parliament is unable to get 183 votes then “we are back to December 7”, Joy News’ Parliamentary correspondent Elton John Brobbey reported.
Story by Ghana|myjoyonline.com|Edwin Appiahfirstname.lastname@example.org