The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, has started canvassing support for the passage of the constitutional Amendment Bill 2016, which will change the date of elections from December 7, to the first Monday of November in election years.
The Bill seeks to amend Article 112 (4) of the 1992 Constitution, to change the country’s election date from December 7th to the first Monday of November every election year.
The AG on the floor of Parliament contended that, changing the dates will ease the stress in government transitions by providing ample time.
“One of the main advantages is that, holding election in November will allow for sufficient time between an election and the handing over of power to an incoming government. This important to ensure adequate preparation and a smooth transition and eliminate situations where former Ministers of State are recalled to provide information to an incoming government on matters of state.”
“In addition to this Mr. Speaker , having an election on the predetermined date of the week also avoids the inconvenience associated with some days of the week such as Fridays and Sundays …Furthermore having an election on a day following a weekend also allows ample time for preparation by the Electoral Commission by way of transportation and distribution of election materials and makes it convenient for the electorates who need to travel to their various constituencies to cast their votes to do so.”
She therefore asked the House to pass the Bill in order “assist in attaining the intended objective of the Bill to strengthen the electoral process and advance our democracy.”
Joe Osei Wusu disagrees
But the Minority Spokesperson on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Joe Osei Wusu, has cast doubts over the preparedness of the Electoral Commission.
He argues 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.
By: Marian Ansah/citifmonline.com/Ghana