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Sat, Oct

District level elections – must we not look at the law again?

On paper, district level elections are supposed to be non-partisan, but on the ground, things are different.

The fallout from the election of a Presiding Member (PM) for the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA), where the entrenched positions of factions resulted in a year-long ‘battle’ just to elect a PM, suggests that things are not really what they seem and elections at the local level have now gained a partisan dimension.

Otherwise, why would assembly members have to go through as many as 10 attempts to elect a PM for a municipality as big as the KMA, and which was only achieved after the intervention of the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.

Another factor responsible for the successful election of the PM was because only one compromise candidate, the Amakomhene, Nana Adu Mensah Asare, was presented, enabling him to poll 100 ‘YES’ votes of the 123 valid votes cast. 

But, be that as it may, we are pleased that finally the KMA has successfully been able to elect its PM, which means that there is hope for development in the metropolis.

Going forward, however, the Daily Graphic believes that we would be deceiving ourselves if we still hold the notion that local-level elections are purely non-partisan.

Once again, drawing lessons from the Kumasi episode, it is clear that the previous candidates in the laborious PM election are aligned to major political parties and so the assembly members voted on those lines instead of on non-partisan lines as espoused by the 1992 Constitution in Article 248.

According to Article 244 of the Constitution and Section 17 of the Local Government Act - 1993 (ACT 462); “The Presiding Member shall be elected by at least two-thirds majority of all the members of the Assembly.”

We believe, though, that we need a re-look at the provision that requires a two-thirds majority of all the members of the assembly for instance to elect a PM, which means that even if a member is unavailable, his vote still counts in the election of a PM and many absent assembly members would definitely make it difficult for anyone standing election as a PM to gain a two-thirds majority as stated.

We also believe that, maybe, it is time to critically examine the calls to elect metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDAs) so that the various political parties put forward candidates for election to the positions, instead of the current practice where it is the President’s prerogative to appoint with the prior approval of not less than two-thirds majority of members of the assembly present and voting at the meeting.

Governance at the local level is very important, as that is where all the major infrastructural development of the country takes place.

We, therefore, cannot let our parochial interests becloud and stall that very important role. We need to review the current statutes to make sure that we are on the right track as a country and ensure that what happened at the KMA does not recur.