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Nat’l House of Chiefs divided over 'NO' referendum statement

By Mutala Yakubu
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There is a new twist to the stance of the National House of Chiefs over the national referendum on whether or not to allow political parties to sponsor candidates for local level elections.

The House of Chiefs on Friday, November 15, 2019, released a statement signed by President, Togbe Afede XIV and the Vice President Daasebre Nana Kwebu Ewusi VII saying that the House was against the government’s position on the December 17 referendum.

They, therefore, urged Ghanaians to vote 'NO' on December 17.

READ ALSO: Nat’l House of Chiefs calls on Ghanaians to vote 'No' in December referendum 

According to the statement, the House of Chiefs is concerned about the adverse effects of partisan politics on local level development if this referendum goes through.

“We want the citizenry to know that the referendum is meant to permit unbridled partisan politics into local government, and so the merits of the proposed reform should be assessed on that basis. We strongly recommend its rejection by the citizens”, the House said in the statement.

There is now a new twist as Ogyeahoho Yaw Gyebi II of Sefwi Anhwiaso in the Western Region who is the Chairman of the Governance Committee of the National House of Chiefs, says he is not aware of the statement and as far as he is concerned, it only represents the view of two people and not the entire view of the House of Chiefs.

“I am not aware of any consultation or meeting. This matter should have been referred to the governance committee of which I am the Chairman but it hasn’t been referred to me. If it came to the governing council, it would have been discussed at the planning committee. But this hasn’t happened so I don’t know who and who came out with this statement on behalf of all the paramount chiefs in the country. Especially when two major political parties have taken a different stance. If we are not careful, we will involve ourselves directly in party politics. So far as I am concerned, this is statement coming from two individuals not the house”, he said on Eyewitness News.

The Referendum which seeks to amend Article 55 (3) to enable political parties to sponsor candidates for election to District Assemblies or Lower Local Government Units has been greeted with mixed reactions from a number of interest groups.

READ ALSO: Vote 'No' in December referendum - NDC urges Ghanaians

 Currently, the law, in Article 243 (1) of the 1992 Constitution, says District Chief Executives for every Metropolitan, Municipal and District are to be appointed by the President with the prior approval of not less than two-thirds majority of members of the assembly present and voting at the meeting.