Parliament Has Authority To Adopt Proposals For Constitutional Amendment

Two top officials of think-tanks and a pastor have said Parliament has the authority to adopt civil society’s constitutional amendment proposals outside those prescribed by the Constitutional Review Implementation Committee (CRIC) for amending the 1992 Constitution and for reforming multiparty governance. This is because the House will, as part of its processes, engage in discourses with the public when considering the report on constitutional amendments brought before it by the CRIC. They said this in answer to a question on the avenues available to civil society to push through proposals for constitutional amendment and multiparty governance reforms being proposed by the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), the Civic Forum Initiative (CFI) and their partners. The officials are Major-General Carl Nii Coleman, (rtd), Chairman of CFI, Mr Kwesi Jonah, Senior Research Fellow, IDEG and Rev Dr Fred Deegbe, former General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana. The CFI, IDEG and their partners were in Ho as part of a nationwide campaign to garner public support for “opening up the Constitutional Amendment Process (CAP) and the urgency for Multiparty Governance reforms before 2016.” The three agreed that the CRIC did a “fairly good” job but kept certain things from the public and called on the Commission to publish the proposed amendments. Maj-Genl Coleman said the proposals being canvassed by the IDEG, CFI and “their broad coalition partners” reflected the desire of a broad spectrum of the citizenry to keep “the constitutional amendment process open and receptive to ideas and proposals that would eliminate threats to peace, stability, national unity and democratic and inclusive development of the nation.” He said legal experts had formulated those proposals into legal drafts for presentation to Parliament as soon as it reconvenes. The proposed reforms focused on devolution of executive power to local governments and assemblies, strengthening of the Civil Service, Local Government Service, Public Service Commission, National Development Planning Commission, Police Service and the Institution of Chieftaincy among others. The rest are Election Cycle reform and Political Parties’ reform. Participants including traditional rulers, local government practitioners among others raised a number of related issues in support of the proposed reforms and amendments. The IDEG and CFI are seeking to gather at least one million signatures nationwide in support of their campaign. The position of the CRIC was that it was late to take on more amendment proposals being canvassed by Civil Society towards amending the 1992 Constitution. The CFI, IDEG and like-minded Organizations hold a contrary view. They argued that the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) should have put its report before the public to enable it ascertain whether what the Commission captured reflected their views. Civil Society also alleged that government deleted aspects of the amendment proposals which the citizenry considered as indispensable.