December 12, 2018
The Ghana Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has followed the discourse and recent developments surrounding the proposal to create six new regions. We note in particular, the unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court of Ghana which dismissed a suit brought before it by three individuals challenging the decision of the Electoral Commission (EC) to allow only residents in the affected areas instead of the entire region to vote in the referendum. The suit had also sought clarity on who qualified to vote in the referendum, specifically in relation to the creation of the Oti Region. CDD-Ghana also took notice of the maturation in Parliament of Constitutional Instrument (CI) 109 which will regulate the conduct of the impending referendum scheduled for December 27, 2018.
By these two developments, the EC has a clear path to conduct the referendum in the affected parts of the country. The referendum will be the first of such under the country’s current democratic dispensation. The Center has also noted with gratification, the publication by government of the full report of the Justice Brobbey Committee following a directive by the President to that effect. This is consistent with the good governance practice of transparency and citizens’ right to public information.
Given the concerns and interests aroused since the announcement by government to create new regions, and recent media reports on reservations and opposition to the proposal, particularly in parts of the Volta and Northern regions of the country, CDD-Ghana is calling on the EC to step up public education and sensitization on the referendum, particularly with regards to voting arrangements and procedures, to enable qualified voters to make the right decisions. The people in the affected areas have the right to know what their voting options (a Yes or No vote) mean and the full implications of either votes. In this regard, CDD-Ghana recognizes the roles and responsibilities of various stakeholders, including civil society/community-based organizations, in carrying out peaceful sensitization activities.
CDD-Ghana, however, wants to caution government and its agencies against any interference in the referendum process which will undermine the integrity of the polls. In the next two weeks, as the nation prepares for the exercise, it is the expectation of the Center that the EC will manage the referendum process in accordance with the principles of free, fair and credible elections. It is critical that the Commission collaborates with relevant security agencies to ensure that the environment of the referendum is without fear and intimidation, and that the results of the elections will be a true reflection of the people who took part in the elections. On this note, CDD-Ghana calls on the Ghana Police Service to ensure maximum protection for all citizens regardless of their position on the referendum issue.
For more information, please contact:
Efua Idan Atadja
Communication Specialist, CDD-Ghana