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Parliamentary C’ttee Recommends Passage Of Bill For Nov. Elections   
 
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19-Jul-2016  
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The Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament, has recommended the passage of the Constitutional  Amendment Bill 2016, which seeks to amend Article 112 (4) of the 1992 Constitution, to change the country’s date of election from December 7th to the first Monday of November in election years.

This is contained in a copy of the report of the Committee to Parliament sighted by Citi News.

The report examines all the key issues that have come up in relation to the preparedness of the Electoral Commission (EC) to hold the elections in November.The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, had received advice from the Council of State on the Constitutional (Amendment) Bill, 2016, and consequently, referred it to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs for consideration and report. 

Why the committee recommended the passage

Citi News’ Duke Mensah indicated that, the committee took into consideration the EC’s assurance that it would be in the position to organize the elections in November despite the delays and adjustments made to its original calendar.

The Commission also told the committee that government has honored its financial obligations to them so far, and that they do not see any challenges with funding for this year’s elections.

A key concern that came up during the public forum on the bill, was that amending the constitution would be in breach Article 2 of the ECOWAS protocol on democracy and good governance, which disallows modifications in electoral laws six months to elections.

But the Attorney General (AG), has told the committee that since the law was being modified with the consent of the majority of stakeholders in the country, and has popular support, the enactment would not constitute a breach of the protocol.

The AG also clarified that, the amendment cannot be passed now, and implemented later in 2020, as some MPs and civil society groups have suggested, whilst indicating that, the implementation cannot be postponed because this piece of legislation is a CI.

Parliament is scheduled to debate the report of the committee today [Tuesday].

Background

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.

Recommendations of the reform committee

One of the recommendations made by the committee was a change in the date for the conduct of elections from December 7 to the first Monday in November in an election year.

The committee specified that, the elections should be held on the first Monday in November in an election year, in order to have elections on a specific day such as Monday, instead of having elections on a specific date.

Reference was made to the United States of America (USA), where elections are fixed for the second Tuesday of November of an election year.

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

That would also ensure a smooth transition and reduce acrimony and prevent the chaotic situation where former ministers of state are recalled to provide information to the incoming government on matters of the state.

The committee further stated that, the reason for choosing the first Monday of November would prevent the inconvenience associated with some days of the week which had the tendency of affecting voter turnout, such as Friday or Sunday.
 
 
Source: Citifmonline
 
 

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