HIS EXCELLENCY NANA ADDO DANKWA AKUFO-ADDO,
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF GHANA,
PETITON FOR AN OFFICIAL DECLARATION OF GOVERNMENT’S POSITION ON THE WORK AND THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW COMMITTEE (CRC)
The Election Community of Practice and Learning (ECOPL) originated from STAR-Ghana with the vision of strengthening and encouraging learning amongst and across diverse Civil Society Organizations and Stakeholders in Ghana; and more particularly to mobilize critical Stakeholders within the governance landscape to harness and share lessons and emerging issues including but not limited to, general electoral management and reforms in Ghana.
ECOPL started operation early this year (2019) and is made up of 20+ highly places and recognized Civil Society Organizations, Media Houses, Activists working together to positively influence elections planning, administration and systems in Ghana.
Your Excellency, we recall the Constitutional Review Commission, a presidential Commission of Inquiry, was set up in January 2010 by the former president His Excellency Professor John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills to consult with the people of Ghana on the operation of the 1992 Constitution and on any changes that needed to be made to the Constitution. The Commission was also tasked to present a draft bill for the amendment of the Constitution in the event that any changes are warranted.
FERVENT CALLS FROM GHANAIANS
Your Excellency, we again recall that the establishment of the Constitution Review Commission was an outcome of many fervent calls by Ghanaians including your very good self to fine-tune the Constitution in order to advance the key democratic gains made since the return to constitutional rule on 7th January 1993. These calls were made by all the living former presidents of Ghana, all the major political parties, public servants, civil society organizations, research institutions, government officials, and many others.
Your Excellency, ECOPLis very much aware that at the African Heads of State meeting in Khartoum in January 2006, President Kufuor pledged his support for a review of the Constitution, following a referendum of the people, if this was necessary to address any constitutional deficit, following the APRM report, comprehensive review of Ghana, that identified several shortfalls in the country‘s democratic development and governance procedures.
In the course of the presidential debates leading up to the 2008 general elections, the presidential candidates of all the major political parties which included you, declared their intention to institute a process to review the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
As a result, when former president His Excellency Professor John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills took over power in 2009, he set up the CRC in January 2010 to consult with the people of Ghana on the operation of the 1992 Constitution and on any changes that needed to be made to the Constitution.
THE WORK OF THE CRC
Your Excellency Mr. President, using a highly participatory qualitative inquiry methodology, the Commission directly and indirectly reached millions of Ghanaians (individuals, groups, institutions), including Ghanaians living abroad and your very good self.
The Commission found that the 1992 Constitution is a resilient foundation for good governance in Ghana. It has been the basis of the flourishing institutions under the Fourth Republic and has potential for guiding the evolution of the nation's institutions towards peace, prosperity and a good life for its people. According to the Commission, even though the 1992 Constitution is a resilient foundation for good governance in Ghana, the Commission found that there are many areas of the Constitution and of constitutional practice that need to change for the better.
CRC RECOMMENDS WAYS TO AMEND THE CONSTITUTION
The Commission recommended measures that the government needed to take to translate the recommendations into constitutional, legislative and administrative actions that will improve national governance and the people's lives. Mainly, it was recommended that a Technical Committee be set up to assist the government implement the recommendations of the Commission. This Technical Committee would offer expert advice (assisting Cabinet, Parliament, and the Council of State in their deliberations on the proposed changes) and in the development of detailed plans and strategies for the various other processes, including the referendum procedure. The Committee would also work closely with the NCCE, EC, MDAs, Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs), Traditional Authority, the Media, civil society and other stakeholders to educate the nation on the reforms prior to the referendum.
The Commission submitted its report on Tuesday, the 20th of December 2011 to the former president, His Excellency Professor John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills. The report which captures summaries of what Ghanaians wanted through submissions made on the review of the 1992 Constitution; provided the current state of the law on each distinct set of submissions; states the findings and observations of the Commission on the submissions; and put forward the recommendations of the Commission on each set of submissions.
POST CRC REPORT SUBMISSION AND ACTIONS.
ECOPL noted the following Actions after the Submission of the CRC Report;
1. Government Issued a White Paper on the Report of the Constitution Review Commission.
In the White Paper, Government (at the time) accepted most of the recommendations of the Commission. Where Government did not accept the Commission’s recommendations, this has been stated and the reasons for the non-acceptance given. Where the Commission recommended the retention of the existing provisions of the Constitution and Government has agreed with the Commission, this has not been commented on at all, implying that the status quo stays.
According to the then Government as contained in the White Paper, the next step after the issuance of the White Paper is the implementation of the recommendations which have been accepted. For this purpose, Government was setting up a 5-member Implementation Committee with the mandate to implement, in strict compliance with Chapter 25 of the Constitution on “Amendments to the Constitution”, the recommendations that have been accepted by Government.
The Implementation Committee was to start work immediately according to the Government at the time. However, because of the 2016 election, actual processes leading to the amendments was to be deferred till after the elections.
2. After the 2016 Election and Change in Government.
ECOPL notes that after the 2016 election and the subsequent change in government, nothing substantial has been heard or done to complete the review process. We do not want to think or belief that all the resources deployed into the exercise is another waste of the limited resources of the republic of Ghana.
3. Government’s Cherry Picking from the CRC Recommendations
ECOPL has taken note of the Current Government’s selective cherry picking from the CRC recommendations without any clear or detailed implementation action plan of which Ghanaian should know and hold the Government responsible.
Typical example of the Cherry Picking of the Government is the current laying in Parliament of a Bill to amend the Constitution to allow for the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) in the country.
Your Excellency, Your Party, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in its 2016 manifesto promised to oversee the direct election of MMDCEs within 24 months of election into office, to coincide with the next District Assembly elections in 2019 and has therefore found it convenient enough to cherry pick just that part of the Government’s white paper to be implemented.
Another example is the cabinet’s approval of a Gender Equality affirmative Action bill that is solely for women which draws its strength from chapters 7 and 13 of the Government’s white paper on the report of the CRC which actually stipulates that Ghana’s Affirmative Action legislation should take on board the needs of Women and other vulnerable groups such as Persons with Disability and the Youth.
1.ECOPL calls for an Official Declaration of Government’s position on the work and the Implementation of the recommendations of The Constitutional Review Committee (CRC)
2.We call on you, Your Excellency not to ignore or subvert the will of the good people of Ghana by selectively implementing what government has agreed to do but rather ensure to have the constitution amended holistically in accordance with the people’s aspirations expressed through the work of the CRC.
3.Finally, we wish you could call for a Stakeholder engagement with CSOs, Religious Leaders, Traditional Authorities, Political Parties, MPs, the Media and our respected Former Presidents on the way forward of how the Government can complete the constitutional review process.
Please accept, Your Excellency, the assurance of our highest consideration.
Yours faithfully as signed by