SALL votes in 2024 elections: EC begins process - A-G
The Electoral Commission (EC), with the support of the Office of the Attorney-General (A-G) and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, has taken “fruitful steps” to ensure representation for the residents of Santrokofi, Akpafu, Likpe and Lolobi (SALL) traditional areas in Parliament.
Addressing Parliament on the development, the Attorney-General said the commission had started the process for the creation of a new constituency for the Guan District.
For instance, he said, the EC had held consultative meetings with stakeholders in the new Guan District for a proposed name and headquarters of the new constituency.
Mr Dame disclosed that the stakeholders unanimously agreed on a constituency name - Guan constituency, with the headquarters being Likpe-Mate.
Besides, he said further to a pre-laying meeting held on June 7, 2023, to consider the Representation of the People (Parliamentary Constituencies) (Amendment) Instrument, 2023, and the District Electoral Areas and Designation of Units (Amendment) Instrument, 2023, signed and dated copies of the instruments were submitted by the A-G to the Clerk-to-Parliament for laying under the cover of correspondence, dated August 16, 2023.
“By correspondence, dated November 2, 2023, Parliament has indicated that the instruments have indeed been laid in Parliament on October 31, 2023.
“The District Electoral Areas and Designation of Units (Amendment) Instrument, 2023, seeks to realign the Jasikan and Guan districts, placing the electoral areas in the SALL traditional areas within the Guan District,” he said.
The minister was responding to a question posed by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, regarding the government’s legal position on the plight of the people of SALL as they did not have representation in the current eighth Parliament.
Mr Dame said presently, even if the Representation of the People (Parliamentary Constituencies) (Amendment) Instrument, 2023, and the District Electoral Areas and Designation of Units (Amendment) Instrument, 2023, came into force, in accordance with Clause 7 of Article 11, the creation of a new Guan constituency, consisting of the SALL areas, shall only come into effect upon the next dissolution of Parliament on January 6, 2025.
That was the effect of Article 47(6) of the Constitution.
Alternatively, he said if representation of the people of SALL in Parliament in this term of Parliament was desired, the way to go was to have a revocation of L.I. 2416 establishing the Guan District, which would imply that the residents of SALL would remain under the Jasikan District.
Besides, he said, was an annulment of the 2020 parliamentary election organised for the Buem constituency to allow residents of the four SALL communities to be qualified to vote under Article 42 of the Constitution to exercise their right to elect a Member of Parliament to represent them since C. I. 128, used for the conduct of the 2020 parliamentary elections, had already placed the SALL areas under Buem constituency.
“A recognition of the current status of the SALL areas as part of the Buem constituency (within the Jasikan District) and an annulment of the Buem parliamentary election in order to allow the residents of SALL to vote for a Member of Parliament in the Buem constituency will cure the mischief of lack of representation of the SALL people in Parliament for this term of Parliament, until the new C. I. seeking to create the new Guan constituency, comes into force”, he said.
He cited a case pending in the High Court in Hohoe, where a suit is challenging the validity of the election of Kofi Adams as a member of Parliament for the Buem constituency on account of a denial of the SALL people the right to vote in the December 2020 Buem parliamentary election.
Tracing the origin of the problem, Mr Dame blamed both Parliament and the EC for contributing to the issue.
He said the issue was the result of a series of constitutional anomalies which the EC sought to cure, following the placement of the four areas within the Buem constituency in the Jasikan District in the Oti Region.
He said it would, therefore, be misplaced for anyone to consider the solution to the problem as residing in the bosom of the government.
“It is really as a result of a decision of this honourable House to allow for the Local Government (Guan District Assembly) (Establishment) Instrument, 2020 (L.I. 2416) to pass on Monday, November 9, 2020, less than a month before the December 2020 election,” he said.
He said until the enactment of the Representation of the People (Parliamentary Constituencies) Instrument, 2020 (C.I. 128) for electoral purposes, the traditional areas of SALL were part of the Hohoe Constituency and also part of the Hohoe District. Administratively, those areas were in the Volta Region.
On February 15, 2019, by Constitutional Instrument No. 112, the boundaries of the Volta Region were altered after due recourse to the mandatory procedures stipulated in Article 5 of the Constitution, resulting in the creation of the Oti Region.
The traditional areas of SALL ceased to be part of the Volta Region as they were included in the territories constituted by law into the Oti Region.
The formation of the new Oti Region had the further consequence that even though, administratively, Hohoe District remained in the Volta Region, parts of the Hohoe Constituency (specifically the SALL areas) had become a part of the Oti Region by dint of C.I. 112.
The SALL areas, he explained, were placed under the Jasikan District in the Oti Region, which was a clear constitutional violation, was imminent as per Article 47(2) of the Constitution which provides that no constituency shall fall within more than one region.
“Mr Speaker, this situation necessitated the enactment of a new constitutional instrument to alter the boundaries of the Hohoe constituency as the continued placement of SALL within the Hohoe constituency was going to be a flagrant violation of Article 47(2).
Following a Supreme Court ruling on June 24, 2020, in suit No. J6/01/2020 titled Valentine Edem Dzatse Vrs. Henry Ametefe and others, he said the EC, in accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court, set out to realign the boundaries of the Hohoe Constituency and place the SALL areas within a constituency in the Oti Region.
He pointed out that a new C.I. 128 was enacted, placing the SALL areas within the Buem Constituency with its headquarters being Jasikan in the Oti Region.
“This situation should not have created any problem at all and should have ensured a due exercise by the people of SALL of their right to participate in the parliamentary election in the Buem constituency in the December 2020 elections.
The SALL people began in November, 2020, when Parliament allowed the Local Government (Guan District Assembly) (Establishment) Instrument, 2020 (L.I. 2416), for the creation of the Guan District, which had been laid before Parliament on Tuesday, October 6, 2020, to come into effect.
“On Monday, November 9, 2020, less than a month before the December 2020 election, L.I. 2416 came into force after having satisfied the constitutional prerequisite of being laid before Parliament for 21 sitting days and same had not been annulled by Parliament.
“It is pertinent to note that the areas carved into the Guan District by L.I. 2416 were hitherto, part of the Jasikan District,” he said.
“Consequent on the enactment of L.I. 2416, the four traditional areas were placed under the new Guan District and ceased to be part of the Jasikan District,” he said.
“This development necessarily required the EC to create a new constituency for the SALL areas (called the Guan constituency) as the commission took the view that to allow for them to remain within the Buem constituency would unleash another constitutional anomaly of having the MP for Buem being a member of both the Jasikan and Guan District Assemblies at the same time.”
He argued that presently, even if the Representation of the People (Parliamentary Constituencies) (Amendment) Instrument, 2023, and the District Electoral Areas and Designation of Units (Amendment) Instrument, 2023, came into force in accordance with clause 7 of Article 11, the creation of a new Guan constituency, consisting of the SALL areas, shall only come into effect upon the next dissolution of Parliament on January 6, 2025, in line with Article 47(6) of the Constitution.
Alternatively, he said if representation of the people of SALL in Parliament in this term of Parliament was desired, a revocation of L.I. 2416 establishing the Guan District, which would imply that the residents of SALL would remain under the Jasikan District.