November 7 election date in limbo

votersIt is still unclear if this year’s General Elections will be held on the yet-to-be accepted new election date, November 7, 2016.

The uncertainty over the elections date, Today understands, stems from the fact that the amendment of the date must go through loads of constitutional processes before it can become a law.

And following that long process, the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Edward Doe- Adjaho, yesterday referred the amendment proposal date to the Council of State to bring forward the date for elections to November 7.

The Council of State is expected to consider the constitutional instrument and must, within 30 working days, take a stance on the change in election date.

Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Mrs. Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, at the sitting yesterday, laid the instrument before the floor of Parliament.

And that development will bring the country closer to effecting an historic change in our elections date.

December 7 date has been used in six general elections since 1992.

The memorandum accompanying the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2016, states that “the bill amends Article 112 (4) of the Constitution to make provision for parliamentary elections to be held well ahead of the expiration of the tenure of Parliament to ensure an effective and smooth transition.”

It explains that currently, dates set aside in respect of conduct of both parliamentary and presidential elections in the country is the 7th day of December whiles swearing in of the president takes place on the 7th day of January in the ensuing year.

However, the one-month period for the transition of one government to the other, has over the years proved insufficient for a smooth transition, particularly in instances where there is a run-off election as was the case in 2000 and 2008.

For example, in a case of a run-off, the existing government has only 10 days to complete the period of transition.
There is a general consensus among political players that the change in the timetable is desirable.

“In the light of the apparent weaknesses in our election system and following the election petition in 2013, the Electoral Reform Committee (ERC) was established on 23rd January, 2015 to propose reforms to our electoral system.

It was against that backdrop that ERC proposed a change in the date for the conduct of general elections from 7th of December to the first Monday of November in an election year.

According to the committee, holding the presidential and parliamentary elections in November would allow for sufficient time between elections and the handing over of power to an incoming government.

It would be recalled that the first Gazette notification of the amendment bill was published on March 9, 2016.

After it was gazetted, a period of three months was needed before the second gazette.

It took 10 days after the second gazette which matured on June 9 before it was pushed to the Council of State for further consideration.

“That is where we are now. I so refer to the Council of State,” Rt. Hon. Edward Doe Adjaho said.

Source: Today Newspaper

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