Former President John Mahama has denied statements by his successor that, they reached a consensus at a meeting on the abortive referendum.
Prior to announcing the withdrawal of the contentious referendum in a national broadcast on Sunday night, President Nana Akufo-Addo said he had believed that a meeting he had with the three former presidents -John Rawlings, John Kufuor and John Mahama- on April 18, 2017, at which the referendum was discussed, ended with a general agreement that political parties be allowed to participate in local assembly elections.
“I came away from that meeting with the view that there was consensus amongst us that the time had come for political parties to participate openly in district assembly elections and local governance,” the President indicated.
But Mr Mahama told JoyNews’ Kwesi Parker-Wilson in an exclusive interview after a meeting with the Islamic Federation Council in Accra Tuesday, that indeed the meeting took place to look at three key issues.
He said they discussed the welfare of former presidents, the creation of new regions as well as the election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).
However, there was no agreement that the political parties should be allowed to participate in the election of MMDCEs, he revealed.
“President Kufuor was for political party participation in the election of MMDCEs [but]…I took the stance of the Fiadjoe Committee that we should still keep political parties out, that we can achieve the election of our DCEs without political party participation.
“President Rawlings did not express any firm stand but on that particular matter, there was no consensus even though we discussed it, there was consultation [but] there was no consensus,” the former president explained.
Mr Mahama said he maintained his position that the MMDCEs be elected as recommended by the Prof. Albert Committee.
The committee proposed that the president nominates five people for the position of MMDCE for a particular assembly to the Public Services Commission, where the list will further be pruned to three before they are presented to the public for election.
The referendum had sought to amend Article 243(1) and Article 55(3) of the 1992 Constitution to enable MMDCEs and unit committee members to be elected along political party lines.
However, the question of whether to allow political party participation at the local government level dominated major discussions with the leading opposition party, National Democratic Congress (NDC) campaigning for a ‘No Vote’.
President Akufo-Addo threw a jab at the NDC describing them as “hypocrites” who, after participating in stakeholder engagements and giving their consent for the exercise to be held, only made a last-minute u-turn to campaign for a ‘No vote’.
But Mr Mahama described the President’s comment as “unfortunate.”
“I think it was unfortunate for him to have said that it was hypocrisy on the side of the NDC, that was wrong. It was not only the NDC that rejected, but the Catholic Bishops also said ‘no’ the National House of Chiefs said ‘no’ and these are no means institutions in Ghana. And so he cannot accuse people of hypocrisy just because they hold a different viewpoint from he had intended.
“In addition, the impression had been created that the referendum was about the election of MMDCEs which it isn’t. The election MMDCEs is in the bosom of Parliament.
“If our parliamentarians agree that DCEs should be elected they can be elected. It’s just that we don’t want political parties bringing the polarisation that we have at the national level into our local government system,” he stated.