The Electoral Commission (EC) has set April 5, 2016, to conduct a bye election in the Abuakwa North constituency. The decision follows the death of J.B. Danquah, the Member of Parliament for the area.
Article 112 (5) of the 1992 Constitution mandates the EC to conduct a bye-election within 30 days, after being notified of a vacancy in Parliament by its Clerk.
The article reads: “Whenever a vacancy occurs in Parliament, the Clerk to Parliament shall notify the Electoral Commission in writing within seven days after the vacancy occurred, and a by-election shall be held within thirty days after the vacancy occurred”.
Following this, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) went to the polls on Tuesday to elect its parliamentary candidate to contest the election. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the People National Convention (PNC), in ‘solidarity’ with the late MP have, however, decided not to contest.
The right to conduct the bye election is not in dispute because Article 112 (5) of the constitution, which we have already quoted, gives EC the right to do so. The Chronicle cannot, therefore, challenge the EC over the decision to organize the election.
The famous William Shakespeare once wrote and we quote: “Always the wrong person gives you the right lesson in life”. As we have also noted, the decision to conduct the bye election cannot be contested but can’t we, as a country agree that this impending election, even though backed by the constitution, is unnecessary and that the money that would be spent could have been used to tackle other national problems?
We have just eight months to the presidential and parliamentary elections – this means that the MP that would be elected has only seven months to spend in Parliament. Within this short period, what meaningful contribution can the person make to the national discourse?
As Shakespeare noted, The Chronicle may be wrong in pointing this out but if we are listened to, millions of cedis that would be wasted on this election could be re-directed to tackle other national engagements.
Since the EC is duty bound to conduct the election, it cannot turn round to tell a different story. The onus, therefore, rest on the political parties and other stakeholders to meet and agree that the Abuakwa North bye election should be frozen because it would not serve any useful purpose.
Like in the game of football, whilst focusing on scoring goals, players must also be mindful of counter attacks from their opponents which may cause them disaster. Since Article 112 (5) directs EC to conduct the election, those who want to get cheap popularity could proceed to court to challenge the decision to freeze the election.
This development could, however, be avoided if the stakeholders, after agreeing among themselves not to contest the bye election, would have time to educate the public why they must support their decision in the national interest.
The 1992 constitution was not written by God but human beings. The Chronicle does not think any individual can just get up and proceed to court over the matter if the person has not declared his or her intention to contest.
It would even become a fruitless venture if the courts compel the EC to conduct the bye election that has no contestants. What we need now is consensus building over the issue to save the state from splurging huge sums of money on this exercise.
Source: The Chronicle
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