Ghana: National House of Chiefs Divided Over 'No' Vote Declaration

18 November 2019

Kumasi — There is a seeming feud within the National House of Chiefs (NHC) over the pending referendum as to whether Ghanaians should vote 'NO" or "YES", come December 17, 2019.

While a statement, jointly signed by the House's President and his Vice, Togbe Afede XIV and Daseebre Kwebu Ewusi, VII, stressed the strong objection against the proposal to amend Article 55(3) of the Constitution to allow political parties to fully participate in the local assembly poll, two of the Paramount Chiefs claim, the statement was not a representation the view of entire House.

Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution prohibits the sponsoring by the political parties of candidates for election to District Assemblies or Local Government Units.

The Government seeks to amend it, and is preparing to organise a referendum for the amendment of the law because it is an entrenched provision of the Constitution.

In the statement jointly signed by the President of the NHCand his Vice, the House, said "strongly recommends its rejection by the citizens at the referendum, come December 17, 2019.

"We want the citizenry to know that the referendum is meant to permit unbridled partisan politics into local government, and so the merits of the proposed reform should be assessed on that basis."

According to the statement, all the partisanship that resulted from the Presidential appointment of the chief executives would be worsened with the amendment of Article55 (3).

But, rejecting the statement as the position of the National House of Chiefs, OsagyefuoAmoatia Ofori Panin,Okyenhene said, "the Standing Committee of the National House of Chiefs has no record of deliberations on the matter."

The Okyenhene is quoted as saying "The Committee of the whole House has not been informed or met on the matter in question."

And that "the public should expect from Nananom [National House of Chiefs] in the coming days, a communiqué on this critical national issue in line with established consultative processes."

Similarly, Chairman of the Governance Committee of the House, Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II, of Sefwi Anhwiaso, in the Western Region, says the statement does not represent the collective view of Nananom in the House.

"I am not aware of any consultation or meeting," he said.

But Togbe Afede XIV, President of the House and nDaasebre Nana Kwebu Ewusi VII, Vice Presidentinsist members of the NHC were consulted on the matter.

Acounter statementfrom the House,signed and issued by the duo on November 16, recounted a visit byKwasi Boateng Adjei, the Deputy Minister of Local Government and Rural Development on December 19, 2018 at the invitation of the House, which set the tone for discussion on the referendum.

It referred to a report by Nana S. Krobea Asante, Asokorehene and Chairman of the Committee on Legal Affairs submitted to the House dated January 22, 2019 which stated the House position.

It said the Standing Committee of the house, at its meeting on February 26, 2019, discussed and adopted Nana Asante's report as the position of the House after which the House at its meeting the next day had a final discussion.

The statement said Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II, Sefwi Anhwiasohene, was at the meeting but did not raise any objection, adding that, the position of the house has since been submitted to the sector ministry awaiting response.

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