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Ghana: IDEG Sensitises Ghanaians on Referendum

A training workshop on multiparty local governance reform has been held in Accra with a call on stakeholders to intensify their campaign for a 'Yes' vote in the September 2019 referendum.

The trainer of trainers' workshop was organised by the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG) as part of measures to educate and sensitise Ghanaians on the need for the referendum that would lead to reforms in the local governance structure of the country.

It was on the theme, "Winning the 2019 Referendum: What will it take?", and had brought together participants from a cross-section of society including media practitioners, local governance experts, chiefs, educationists and religious leaders.

The referendum would seek to, among other things, amend Article 55, Clause 3 of the 1992 constitution to enable political parties participate in district level elections and also offer the citizenry the opportunity to elect their own Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs).

Opening the workshop, the Executive Director of IDEG, Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey said the amendment would take away the powers that enable the President to appoint MMDCEs.

However, he said for this to be possible, there was the need for a 'Yes' vote of not less than 75 per cent to be attained at a referendum, stressing that "it is important that a Yes vote is attained in that referendum since it will redefine local governance in our country".

According to him, the last time political parties were allowed to actively participate in local level elections in the country was in 1958, thus, the September 2019 referendum was historic.

"This is something historic that is going to happen that we must take seriously," he said.

Dr Akwetey said the training was all inclusive and urged trainees to educate more people in the districts they serve in order to achieve positive results to make the country a better one.

"We would like you to go back to the district you serve and train more people by starting conversations with the ordinary men and women in your communities who have the right to know how we can improve our systems, living conditions and living standards in the next 30 years to probably move Ghana higher," he noted.
On his part, Prof. Atsu Ayee, a fellow of IDEG and a senior lecturer at the University of Ghana said there was the need to train people who would in turn convince citizens to partake in the upcoming referendum.

He explained that the election of MMDCEs through political participation would promote competition among the MMDCEs as well as make them accountable to the people at the grass root.

Prof. Ayee said the IDEG advocacy was a continuous programme and they had already met with stakeholders who were in support with the measures taken so far.

"We have met the three former Presidents, current President, Chief Imam, Catholic Bishops, National Democratic Congress, New Patriotic Party, and the message is that, they have all bought into the idea. They are very much interested," he said.