September 8, 2012

The Majority in Parliament on Friday cautioned the Minority on the need for national cohesion as the country approached the December Elections, urging them not to “unnecessarily beat war drums when there is no semblance of war”.

They said, recent issues raised by the Minority giving the impression that government was coercing the Electoral Commission (EC) to create 45 new constituencies to favour the ruling national Democratic Congress, was “false” and that that stance could incite the people against government and undermine Ghana’s democratic processes and the integrity of the EC in successfully conducting the impending elections.

The majority was reacting to Tuesday’s press conference by the Minority, where they expressed reservations on the propriety of creating 45 new constituencies barely three months to an important election, alleging that the Government and the Majority caucus was “in bed” with the EC.

“There is no iota of truth or shred of evidence that the NDC government and the NDC Majority caucus is coercing or manipulating the EC in this regard”, said Majority Leader Cletus Avoka at a press conference at Parliament.

“The EC is merely exercising or fulfilling its constitutional obligation in creating the new 45 constituencies…It (EC) has maintained that it has the capacity, the ability and time at its disposal to incorporate the 45 new constituencies into the December 2012 Elections and we have no reason to doubt their assurance and commitment“.

“The EC has a proven track record in this enterprise and we would rather appeal and advise all stakeholders including the NPP and it Minority group in Parliament to co-operate with the EC to ensure an incident free polls in December 2012”.

Mr Avoka said that the EC had the sole mandate of creating or demarcating constituencies in the country as prescribed by Articles 45 and 47 of the 1992 constitution and not the Executive or the Legislature.

He explained that the controversial Constitutional Instrument (CI73) changed into CI77 when the Instrument was sent to the government publisher-Assembly Press- for printing and gazetting as demanded under Article 11 of the Constitution and Regulation 77 of the House’s Standing Orders.

The Majority Leader said officers at the publishing house decided to re-number the CI as 77 because the original CI 73 that was laid in Parliament on July 17, 2012 was faulted and withdrawn and thus replacing the Instrument necessitated another number.

He said the Assembly Press held that maintaining the same numbering of the CI could have distorted the public record as well as confuse the public, though the Instrument dealt with the same subject of creation of new constituencies.

Subsequently, the Speaker of Parliament, Joyce Bamford Addo, requested the EC to correct anomalies that were detected in the corrected CI 77, which the EC obliged and returned the document to Parliament for relaying.

The Instrument was sent to the Assembly Press on September 4, 2012 for gazetting and publishing and was given the serial number CI78.

Mr Avoka said the creation of the 45 new constituencies would enhance participatory democracy and good governance in the country, and would enable MPs have manageable numbers of constituents to interact with, and thus balance development across the country.

He gave the assurance that the Majority would endeavour to build consensus with the Minority in Parliament and all stakeholders to ensure free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections in December.

Mr Avoka noted that Ghanaians had given the NDC “the mandate to manage the vehicle called Ghana and drive it home safely”, adding, “Consequently let it not be inferred that there are some people who think or believe that they are ordained to be rulers of Ghana and hence must always be in the driving seat”

“They are only passengers and we assure them that we will drive them home safely. I entreated all opinion leaders to call for peace, co-operation and unity of purpose between now and December Election and Thereafter”. GNA