IDEG in the Media



A Former Army General of the Ghana Army and a onetime Commandant of the Ghana armed Forces, Major General Nii Carl Coleman has called on all stakeholders in the Constitutional Review and Amendment process to be conscious and tread with caution over what he said can be described as certain procedural and constitutional lapses towards the amendment of some entrenched provisions of the 1992 constitution.

Major General Coleman who is the Chairman of the Civic Forum Initiative, (CFI) an umbrella body made up of civil society organizations, (CSOs), the media, religious groups and other concerned organizations in Ghana made the remarks at a national interest dialogue on Multi-Party Government (MPG) and constitutional reforms in Kumasi on Tuesday, 5 August 2014.

The programme was the first in a series of similar regional dialogues to be organized across the country. It was organized under the auspices of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) in collaboration with the Civic Forum Initiative (CFI) and other partners.

The aim was to help sensitize the public on certain fundamental and relevant issues of multi-party governance and constitutional reforms that needed to be given a second look in the run-up to the final stages of the Constitutional Review process in order to create room for more further inputs from the public before a final conclusive decision is made on the process for the amendment of the constitution through a referendum.

It would be recalled that the Former President, the late Professor John Evans Atta Mills in 2010 constituted a nine-member constitutional Review Commission (CRC) to look into various processes that could lead to the review and amendment of the 1992 constitution under the fourth republic of Ghana.

However, in 2012 after the CRC completed its report and submitted recommendations, the Executive again constituted another body called the Constitutional Review Implementation Committee (CRIC) to help implement the government’s white paper issued on the various recommendations of the CRC. The government’s white paper on the CRC recommendations was contained with a draft bill to amend certain entrenched provisions of the constitution.

In view of this, certain civil society organizations and other well-meaning Ghanaians have raised several concerns over how the final stages of the constitutional amendment process had become less transparent, inadequate and lack openness for public scrutiny.

Major General Coleman said, there is the need for every citizen to have a fair understanding of the current democratic process in the country. He therefore said, the constitutional review and amendment process must take in to consideration the various potential risks and challenges facing the democratic governance in the country through the current multi-party democratic dispensation. “Politics of marginalization and exclusiveness as well as winner takes all syndrome does not promote good governance. This is why there is a continued increasing rate of violent threats to Ghana’s democracy in every cycle of general elections in the country particularly during 2008 and 2012”, he pointed out.

Major General Coleman noted that the entrenched provisions of the 1992 constitution in real sense do not promote good governance in the country and called for transparency in the amendment process in order to help build public confidence in the whole constitutional review and amendment process. This, he noted would help eliminate the possible evil of stampeding the whole exercise by executive power to favour selfish politicians in the near future.

On his part, Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, the Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG) said there are a lot of issues that are currently not going well with Ghana’s Multi-party governance, saying there is the need for the strengthening of certain governance institutions to help accelerate the development of the country. He lamented that some of the proposals by the CRC has not dealt specifically with issues of economic and constitutional development as well as the general development of the country.

According to Dr Akwetey, the problems of marginalisation among the citisenry, poverty, under-development, neglect, corruption and judgment debts among others is the bane of the current system of governance and expressed the urgent need for a paradigm shift through the constitutional review and amendment process.

He cautioned that if care is not taken and nothing done by subsequent governments to address such fundamental issues through the country’s constitution, the stability of Ghana’s democratic dispensation would be under a serious threat in the near further.
A senior lecturer at the University of Ghana and senior Research fellow at the Institute for Democratic Governance, Dr Kwesi Jonah called for further public inputs in to the amendment of certain entrenched provisions of the constitution before a referendum is conducted. He explained that Ghanaians need to know how the constitution and its entrenched provisions would be amended to suit the views and expectations of the general public.

SOURCE: ISD Justice Achaah Adoah-Kumasi Regional Office