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Speaker Adjaho urges House to act on the election date debate

Accra, July 21, GNA – Speaker of Parliament Edward Korbly Doe Adjaho has urged the Leadership of the House or the Business Committee to be expeditious in arranging for the debate on the proposed change in election date.

Accra, July 21, GNA – Speaker of Parliament Edward Korbly Doe Adjaho has urged the Leadership of the House or the Business Committee to be expeditious in arranging for the debate on the proposed change in election date.

He said: “It is important because there are consequences flowing from whatever decision this House will take with regards to the Motion.

 “And the earlier that decision is taken by the House, the better for everybody- the better for all of us, the better for the political parties and the better for the Electoral Commission.

 “So it is important for us to know when this Motion will be taken so that we can all prepare for it.”
Mr Adjaho said this on Wednesday when the House was discussing the business of the day, during which the Speaker wanted to know when the motion for the second reading of the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2016 would be moved.

The Motion has been listed in Tuesday’s Order Paper, the programme of activities for that day, but was however, not done and with this the Speaker informed the House that the Majority Leader had had a discussion with him for the Bill to be taken the following day.

The Speaker said: ”It was on the Order Paper yesterday (Tuesday, 19th July, 2016), but the Hon. Majority Leader came to see me in my office yesterday that he would like the matter to be taken today.

“And if today we are not taking it, any other day that you want to take it, let the Business Committee or the Leadership inform the House so that after you have cleared whatever you want to clear, Members will be put on proper notice as to when the debate will take place.”

Speaker: Leadership (Hon. Deputy Majority Leader), what is the position of the House on the Constitution (Amendment) Bill, 2016 on the Order Paper?

Deputy Majority Leader: Mr Speaker, I am informed by my Leader that there are some issues to be cleared before the Bill is taken. So we want to stand it down for now and when the issues are cleared, we will inform you.

Minority Leader: Mr Speaker, I guess you wanted the Majority Leader and I to confer on the matter. Unfortunately, it is not possible to have that engagement this morning. I am told the Majority Leader has to be at a Cabinet meeting this morning. If that is the case, he may not be able to avail himself. I guess the best thing to do is to step the Bill down for now.

Speaker: Hon. Members, this is a very important Bill. It is dealing with the amendment of the fundamental law of this land. And the day that we will take this motion, it is important for Hon. Members to know, to be put on notice so that they can be in the House to take part in the debate.

The Minority Leader and MP for Suame, said by his information, the motion would be taken on Thursday, July 21, 2016.

Parliament on Friday, June 29, 2016, started the process to amend portions of the 1992 Constitution to give legal backing to the change in the date of the impending General Election from December 7 to November 7, 2016.

The amendment would also seek to make the first Monday of November of an election year, the tentative national date for general election. The proposed date for this year’s general election, also falls on a Monday.

This Bill, would amend Article 112 of the 1992 Constitution to give constitutional backing to the change of the date for parliamentary elections.

Dr Dominic Ayine, the Deputy Attorney General and Deputy Minister of Justice, who is also the MP for Bolgatanga East, tabled the Bill for the first reading.

The Speaker of Parliament after the presentation that day referred the Bill to the Council of State for consideration and advice.

The Constitution Amendment Bill 2016 has already been published twice in the Gazette, with the second publication having been made at least three months after the first.

At least 10 days had passed after the second publication, hence the laying of the Bill in Parliament.

The Speaker, referring the Bill to the Council of State, said he had done all the necessary checks and he was sure the Bill was ready to be presented for the first reading.

In accordance with article 291 (2), the Speaker shall, after the first reading of the Bill in Parliament; refer it to the Council of State for consideration and advice and the Council of State shall render advice on the bill within 30 days after receiving it.

“I have done the necessary checks and this requirements of notice (article 291 (a)) have been complied with and it is my responsibility in terms of the constitution to refer the Bill to the Council of State and I so refer,” he said.

The Bill is to amend article 112(4) of the Constitution to make provision for Parliamentary Elections to be held well ahead of the expiration of the tenure of Parliament to ensure an effective and smooth transition.

Currently, the dates set in respect of the conduct of both Presidential and Parliamentary elections in the country is the 7th day of December, while the swearing-in of the President takes place on the 7th day of January in the ensuing year.

However, the one month period for the transition of one government to the other, has over the years proved insufficient for a smooth transition, particularly, in instances where there is a run-off as was the case in 2000 and 2008.

One of the recommendations made by the Electoral Reform Committee after the election petition in 2013 was a change in the date for the conduct of general election from 7th December to the first Monday of November, in an election year in order to have elections on a specific day, instead of having elections on a specific date.

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