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General News
Indemnity Clauses To Go? 5/28/2010

Referendum Likely, Says Review Commission
Ghana may be heading for a national referendum to amend some of the most entrenched clauses of the 1992 Constitution, the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) has hinted.

With more than 6,000 proposals so far received by the body set up by the President to collate data and views for amendments to the Constitution, it said it was within reach of the threshold where a referendum might be required.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra, the Executive Secretary of the CRC, Dr Raymond Atuguba, said majority of the issues of public concern touched on the excessive powers of the President, the reduced powers of Parliament and chieftaincy, as well as other entrenched portions of the Constitution.

Under the Constitution, the President appoints all ministers and, in consultation with the Council of State, appoints virtually all heads of state departments and agencies.

Article 78(1) also mandates the President to appoint, with the prior approval of Parliament, majority of ministers of state from Parliament.

The transitional provisions sought to ensure a smooth transition from the government of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) to a democratic dispensation under the Fourth Republic by providing for the continuation in office of certain officers and institutions.

However, Section 34 of the transitional provisions indemnifies all coup makers and their functionaries against any liability for acts and omissions committed during their administration.

Those, according to Dr Atuguba, attracted the most concern from the public.

He said to achieve the objective of the review process, there would be the need for the government to increase its share of the commission’s budget, adding that it had urged the government to increase its funding from 20 per cent to 40 per cent.

He said that was to enable the commission to increase the number of its researchers from five to 12 to enable them to reach all the districts of the country to educate, inform and elicit views from the people.

He said there would also be the need to engage external expertise to look at some of the specialised areas in the Constitution touched on by the public.

Earlier, the Media and Events Manager of the CRC, Papa Kow Acquaye, said the commission had almost completed the first round of education, information and eliciting of views on the review in five regions, namely, Upper East, Brong Ahafo, Northern Volta and Eastern.

He said the exercise was in line with the commission’s operational strategy of organising community level consultations, in collaboration with the National Commission for Civic Education, the district assemblies and the National House of Chiefs, to promote grass-roots mobilisation and participation.

He said the second round of the exercise would start in two weeks’ time in the Central, Western, Ashanti, Greater Accra and Upper West regions.

Papa Acquaye explained that in each region, the team spent two days, during which it met with selected stakeholders and the public. He called on the media to support the work of the commission by extensively covering its events and programmes.

The Consultant Manager of the CRC, Madam Noreen Nortey, said it would conduct regional town hall meetings in all the 10 regions of the country from August to November 2010.

She said the commission intended to engage specialised and identifiable bodies, such as former Heads of State, Parliament, especially its sub-committee on Constitutional, Parliamentary and Legal Affairs, the Judiciary, political parties, the media, experts of constitutional law and practice, traditional authorities and other stakeholders.

She said the CRC, through a collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, would engage Ghana’s foreign missions to receive submissions from Ghanaians living abroad, adding that they might also make their submissions by e-mail and on the website of the commission.

Madam Nortey said the climax of the consultative review process would be a national constitutional review conference, indicating that the conference would bring together stakeholders and experts from Ghana and abroad.


 
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