Thank you, MrSpeaker, for the opportunity to presentthe Committee's Report.
Introduction The Constitution (Amendment) Bill,2016 was presented to Parliament and readthe First time on Tuesday, 28th June,
2016. Following the presentation, MrSpeaker referred the Bill to the Council ofState for consideration and advice inaccordance with article 291 of theConstitution. On Monday, 4th July, 2016,Mr Speaker informed the House that hehad received the Advice on the Bill fromthe Council of State. He accordingly referred the Billtogether with the Advice from the Councilof State to the Committee on Consti-tutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairsfor consideration and report in accordancewith Article 106 of the Constitution andOrder 179 of the Standing Orders of theHouse.
Reference The Committee referred to thefollowing documents during its delibe-rations.
i. 1992 Constitution of the Republicof Ghana ii. Standing Orders of Parliament iii. Public Elections Regulations,2012 (C.I. 75) iv. ECOWAS Protocol on Democracyand Good Governance (A/SP1/12/01)
Background Article 112 (4) of the 1992 Constitutionprovides for the period within whichelection of Members of Parliament couldbe held. The provision states:
“Subject to clause (2) of Article 113of this Constitution, a generalelection of Members of Parliamentshall be held within thirty days
before the expiration of the periodspecified in clause (1) of thatArticle; and a session of Parliamentshall be appointed to commencewithin fourteen days after theexpiration of that period”. On the strength of the afore-statedprovision (Article 112 (4)), the ElectoralCommission fixed the 7th day of Decemberas the date for the conduct ofParliamentary Elections in the countrysince 1996. The 7th of December, which iscurrently the date for the conduct ofgeneral elections in the country, leaves atransitional period of only one month, forthe swearing-in of the President-elect on7th January in the ensuing year. The one month transition period withinwhich one government hands over toanother, has over the years, provedinsufficient for a smooth transition,particularly, in instances of run-offelections, as were the cases in 2000 and2008. The challenges associated withPresidential transition were of concern,hence the need to take a critical look at theissue. The Constitutional Review Commission,after its nationwide consultations in theCountry, recommended that the date for boththe Presidential and Parliamentary Electionsbe held in November to allow for enoughtime for smooth Presidential transition. Following the work of the ConstitutionalReview Commission, the ElectoralCommission also set up the ElectoralReform Committee (ERC) in January 2015to consider various electoral reformsneeded to be made before the 2016elections. The date for both the Presidentialand Parliamentary Elections was one ofthe issues considered by the Committee. The Electoral Reform Committee wasof the opinion that holding the Presidentialand Parliamentary Elections earlier thanthe 7th December, would allow for
sufficient time between elections and thehanding over of government to anincoming administration. This accordingto the ERC, will ensure a smooth transitionand reduce acrimony, as well as preventthe near chaotic situation experienced bythe country previously. The ERC therefore recommended that,the 7th of December for the conduct ofour general elections should be changedto the First Monday of November in anyelection year. Consequent upon that, theConstitution (Amendment) Bill, 2016 wasintroduced in Parliament to effect thechange in the date. It must be mentioned that, the Bill onlyspecifies the day on which ParliamentaryElections could be held. It is also worth-mentioning that, unlike the ParliamentaryElections, the provision in the Constitution(article 63(2)) which stipulates the periodwithin which Presidential Elections couldbe held, will not require an amendment buta Constitutional Instrument, if it has to befixed in November. Article 63(2) of theConstitution states:
“The election of the President shallbe on the terms of universal adultsuffrage and shall, subject to theprovisions of this Constitution, beconducted in accordance with suchregulations as may be prescribed byconstitutional instrument by theElectoral Commission and shall beheld so as to begin - (a) where a President is in office, notearlier than four months nor laterthan one month before his termof office expires; and (b) in any other case, within threemonths after the office ofPresident becomes vacant;
and shall be held at such placeand shall begin on such date asthe Electoral Commission shall,by Constitutional Instrument,specify.” The Bill seeks to amend article 112 (4)of the 1992 Constitution to provide forParliamentary Elections to be held on thefirst Monday of November in everyelection year, to ensure effective andsmooth transition. Consideration of the Bill by theCommittee. The Committee in considering theReferral, was conscious of the importanceof the Bill to the whole country. Ittherefore deemed it prudent to involve thepolitical parties, civil society organisationsand the general public. Cognisance of this,the Committee held a Public Forum onMonday, 11th July, 2016 to solicit theviews of the public on the Bill. Thefollowing organisations and institutionswere invited to participate in the Forum:
i. National Democratic Congress(NDC) ii. New Patriotic Party (NPP) iii. Convention People's Party(CPP) iv. Progressive People's Party(PPP) v. National Democratic Party(NDP) vi. Democratic People's Party (DPP) vii.New Vision Party (NVP)
viii. National Commission for CivicEducation (NCCE)ix. The Ghana Bar Association x. Ghana Journalist Association(GJA) xi. Ghana National Association ofTeachers (GNAT) xii. Christian Council of Ghana xiii.Office of the National Chief Iman xiv.Centre for Democratic Development(CDD)-Ghana xv. Institute for Democratic Governance(IDEG)xvi. Coalition of Domestic ElectionObservers (CODEC) xvii. Civic Forum Initiative xviii. National Union of GhanaStudents (NUGS) xix. The General Public
In attendance was the Hon Attorney-General and Minister for Justice (MrsMarietta Brew Appiah-Opong and officialsfrom her Ministry. All the participants at the Public Forumunanimously agreed with the change inthe date for the conduct of generalelections from 7th December to the firstMonday of November in an election yearand were therefore in support of thepassage of the Bill. Some however raisedconcerns which borders on the readinessof the Electoral Commission to hold theup-coming general elections in November,should the Billbe passed. It is worth-mentioning that, for this Year, the firstMonday in November proposed in the Bill,falls on the 7th of November.
One of the concerns was that, theElectoral Commission was already behindschedule in respect of its Calendarreleased to the political parties. SomeRepresentatives of the political partiesindicated that, copies of the ProvisionalVoters' Register, which they ought to havereceived at the time, had not been releasedto them, though exhibition of the Registerwas scheduled for the 18th of July, 2016. As a result of this, they were in doubtas to whether after the exhibition, therewould be ample time to adequately dealwith issues relating to errors, change ofnames, objections, claims, among others,to enable the Electoral Commissionprovide political parties with certifiedcopies of the Voters' Register at the timestipulated by the Public ElectionsRegulations, 2016 (C.I. 94) upon itsmaturity. They were also in doubt as to whetherissues relating to transfers, registrationof proxy voters and special voting, couldbe concluded before the 7th of November,when the elections are expected to takeplace. Some participants were also concernedwith whether the Electoral Commissionhad the necessary financial and logisticalsupport to run the election in November,2016. They inquired whether Governmentwas ready to release adequate funds forthe Commission to meet its financial needsto enable it conduct the general electionscome November, 7. The Attorney-General and the Ministerfor Employment and Labour Relations (MrHaruna Iddrisu) allayed the fears of theparticipants by indicating that, Govern-ment was prepared to resource theElectoral Commission to conduct theElections in November this year.