July 12, 2011

The ruling National Democratic Congress appears to have walked into what NPP Member of Parliament for Manhyia, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, calls “a constitutional landmine” after the governing party claimed its loyalists won more than 60 percent of seats in last year’s district assembly elections.

Article 248 (2) provides that “a political party shall not endorse, sponsor, offer a platform to or in any way campaign for or against a candidate seeking election to a district assembly or any lower government.”

The NDC, Opoku Prempeh said, has just proved that “they have been acting illegally and unconstitutionally since taking over power”

“If it is true that the NDC subverted the Constitution and our local government laws then something must be done about it,” he told The Globe.

NDC General Secretary Johnson Asiedu Nketia released details of what he said was the success of pro-NDC candidates at last December’s district assembly polls on Saturday, lending credence to the widely held view that political parties have been violating the nation’s local government laws and the 1992 Constitution, which forbid active participation by political parties – in the form of either sponsoring or backing candidates – in district assembly elections in Ghana.

The poorly organised district assembly polls, which saw a wave of postponements in a number of districts around the country, drew widespread criticism and prompted Parliamentary investigations early this year.

In a report to party delegates at the Sunyani Coronation Park on Saturday, Asiedu Nketia, claimed in the Eastern Region – which is home to main opposition leader, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo – the NDC swept “51 percent of all the seats available.”

He also claimed the performance of pro-NDC candidates in Ashanti, the last absolute stronghold of the opposition NPP, was impressive with candidates sympathetic to the ruling party taking some 38 percent of total seats available.

The success of pro-NDC candidates at the local elections, he said, is evidence that Ghanaians have endorsed the Mills presidency’s Better Ghana Agenda and would surely reward the NDC with another electoral victory in 2012.

Dr Opoku Prempeh has strongly condemned the NDC General Secretary’s comments, saying his claim, if true is “proof that the NDC has and will always continue to subvert the nation’s Constitution.”

“This is a very dangerous development that undermines everything our Constitution stands for” the Manhyia legislator said, adding “Bodies like the Electoral Commission and the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice must take note and initiate the appropriate investigations.”

He said: “Parliament should also see this development as a serious threat to our democracy and immediately take steps to probe the ruling party’s claims.”

Dr Opoku Prempeh told The Globe he intends to raise the issue on the floor of Parliament for the appropriate action to be taken.

“If the NDC is subverting the Constitution to this level with impunity then what else are they not subverting?” he asked rhetorically, adding: “We must act now and fast.”

But, he was quick to add, the ruling NDC’s confession should lead to a national debate with the main aim of opening up the district assembly elections for political parties to actively contest for seats in the various district assemblies.

“That should be the solution,” he said adding the NDC’s confession “should tell us it is time we stopped the pretence.”

The NPP MP is not alone in his criticism of the NDC General Secretary.

Former President of the National Association of Local Authorities, Ghana (NALAG) George Kyei-Baffour has equally condemned the former Wenchi-West MP.

“The statement of the NDC General Secretary is not worth it sort,” he told this reporter.

The former NALAG Boss told the Globe if indeed the NDC’s claims are true, the party could be cited for breach of chapter 20 of the 1992 Constitution which requires non-partisan local government elections every four years for the nation’s Districts, municipal and metropolitan assemblies.

He also agreed with the view that the time has come for Ghana to make local government elections partisan in view of the fact that political parties in Ghana continue to breach the nation’s constitutional provisions, which forbid them from actively participating — covertly or openly — in local government elections in the country.

Source: The Globe