The New Patriotic Party (NPP), has expressed shock at the abrupt “U-turn” of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to campaign for a “No” vote in the upcoming December 17 referendum.
The National Referendum proposes the amendment of the 1992 constitution (Article 55(3) to allow political parties sponsor candidates to local level elections, a situation outlawed by the constitution currently.
At a press conference on Monday (November 18, 2019), the NPP described the unexpected change of the NDC as an “unpatriotic betrayal of the Ghanaian people” and “a naked show of dishonesty, deceit, indecision, lack of candour and integrity from the biggest opposition party in the country”.
According to the General Secretary of the NPP, Mr John Boadu, who addressed the media, because the NDC is fully aware of how difficult it would be for the amendment to be carried through without a consensus, they pretended to be in support until this last minute.
“There is a strong school of thought, ladies and gentlemen, that the only thing that can explain the NDC’s unexpected U-turn is that they are fully aware of the difficult task of getting the amendment through without a consensus.”
“They knew very well but pretended they were in favour until this last minute when huge state resources have been committed into such an important exercise”, Mr Boadu lamented.
The NPP emphasized that a “Yes” vote was neither about the NPP nor NDC but what was good for Ghana.
Reply to NDC
Touching on NDC’s claim that “Government is deceiving the public that the referendum is about election of MMDCEs”, Mr Boadu said “It was never true that government sought to deceive Ghanaians into believing that the referendum is to elect MMDCEs. All stakeholders had been clear on the agenda that the President was giving away his appointing powers to allow the electorate to vote for their own MMDCEs and linked to that is to allow parties to freely contest.”
He also refuted claims that government was not being transparent in the processes leading to the referendum.
The NPP said government had made it clear by way of public education throughout the process that the burden to elect or not elect MMDCEs has now been shifted from the Executive to Parliament by approving the current bill to amend Act 243 (1) which is currently before Parliament.
“The decision whether or not to elect MMDCEs on partisan basis requires the approval of citizens in a referendum, which is all that the December 17 referendum is seeking to achieve”.
The NPP added that the process was not shrouded in secrecy as alleged by the NDC.
It said the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development conducted public awareness and sensitization meetings with relevant stakeholders in all regions of the country and at the national level.
“Meetings were held with identifiable stakeholders, including political parties, the National House of Chiefs, the Christian Council of Ghana, Catholic Bishops Conference, Federation of Muslim Council, CSOs, professional groups, relevant committees of Parliament, etc.”
The NPP has therefore called on the NDC to put the national interest first. It has also called on all patriotic citizens to support a “Yes” campaign.
“We began this journey believing there was a consensus, and we are still hoping that all is not lost”, the party said.