Dialogue On District Election Date

The Electoral Commission of Ghana and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development have been urged to initiate a dialogue aimed at fixing a permanent date for the conduct of the District Level Elections in the country.

The Society for Youth Policy and Poverty Alleviation (SYPPA), a non-governmental organization, that made the plea, proposed that it should be given the same prominence as the presidential and parliamentary elections.

Mr Jonathan Apangabuno Aviisah, Executive Director of SYPPA, at a press conference said "there should as a matter of urgency be an institutionalised and nationally acceptable date just as we have December 7 for both the presidential and parliamentary elections".

Mr Aviisah said the terrible experiences of this year's district level elections due to lack of a permanent date must not be repeated in the future.

He added that it was greatly worrying that citizens and other stakeholders do not know when the next district level elections will take place.

Mr Aviisah said even though by law the EC is mandated to conduct the district level elections two years before the presidential and parliamentary elections, ‘the specific date is at the discretion of the EC’.

The SYPPA Executive Director said such provisions led to the EC being dodgy with a date for the last election even though citizens were prepared to participate.

Mr Aviisah said this was evident from the various dates propounded from late 2014, but each passed by without any action being taken by the EC.

He said the consequences of such actions included creating of a huge vacuum in the administration of the various district assemblies as they were dissolved following the suspension of the election

"Moreover since the inauguration of the new assemblies, the time-line involved as far as the preparation of the budget and the ability of the members to scrutinise the necessary documents and approval is greatly affected", he said.

Mr Aviisah expressed unhappiness at the ill effect of the situation as it has led to it being transferred to the new sessions because of the lack of time for the assemblies to approve their budgets which must be incorporated into the national budget.

SYPPA also called for a dialogue on the possibilities of making the district level elections partisan in order to whip up public interest.

According to the NGO, even though article 248 (1) and (2) under chapter 20 of the 1992 Constitution prohibits partisanship at the district level election, they have noted that the country has been taken over by events.

Mr Aviisah said across the country, there have been reports that political parties were deeply involved in the process as most of them secretly supported candidates to contest different electoral areas.

"They provided all sorts of support to their candidates, they mediated amongst the candidates aligned to their parties to have some step down for others, and they financed their campaigns and most notably provided their structures for these aspirants to run on be it clandestinely".