17 August 2012

Ghana: The New 45 Seats Could Wait!

It looks like the Majority in the House of Parliament is prepared to use its numbers to bulldoze their way through to get the proposed new 45 seats approved in time for the 2012 Presidential and Legislative elections on December 7, 2012.

As Parliament rose yesterday for the long vacation, in preparation for the December vote, the members left with the threat of recall on September 3, 2012 hanging on their necks to come and sit idle in the House until the 21-day statutory declaration, when the Constitutional Instrument (CI) 73matures and makes it possible for the extra 45 seats to be included in the December 7, vote.

When the original CI.73 was laid before the House, it had to be withdrawn, because there were too many errors. We are told that many electoral areas were placed in wrong constituencies. In other words, attempts at passing the flawed instrument could enfranchise many Ghanaians.

The Parliamentary Committee on Subsidiary Legislation recommended to the House to reject the original CI.73. That was done. But the members are worried about its replacement. We are told that the replacement also has numerous errors that need to be corrected by the Electoral Commission.

In effect, the whole exercise needs to be re-assessed. Members of the Minority in Parliament are of the view that a thorough job had to be done on the new Constitutional Instrument before it could be laid for consideration.

They maintain that much as they were not against the creation of the new 45 constituencies, there was the need to do the right thing before the new seats could be created.

This argument is countered by the Majority, which insists that the creation of the new constituencies was a constitutional obligation that ought to be honoured. We would like to believe that both sides are well grounded in their arguments.

But is it realistic to rush through with the exercise, because some people view it as a constitutional obligation?

The Chronicle would like to seek solace in the saying that things worth doing, are worth doing well. We would like to believe that this saying is applicable to the creation of the new constituencies. But is it obligatory to do so for the 2012 elections that is barely four months away?

We would like to recommend to the Electoral Commission to withdraw the Constitutional Instrument for a thorough job to be done on it, before sending it back to the House. If it is not possible to force it though for the2012 elections, the 45 new seats could wait until the 2016 elections.

There is no clause in the Constitution that makes it mandatory for new seats to be created for every election.

The new 45 seats could surely wait for the next vote. We should not be seen to be using numbers in the House to force our way through legislations in the course of which we are likely to send signals out there that may not be that good.

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