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General News of Thursday, 31 May 2007

Source: GNA

ROPAA is unconstitutional - GCPP

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Accra, May 31, GNA - The Representation of the People Amendment Act (ROPAA) as passed by Parliament on Thursday, February 23rd 2006 and received Presidential assent on Friday February 24th was a perpetuation of illegality on Ghanaians, declares the Great Consolidated Popular Party (GCPP).

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Thursday, Mr. Daniel Lartey, GCPP Leader said the legislature and executive in their swift desire to pass the Bill failed to follow constitutional provision for amending an entrenched article.

He explained that Article 42 of the 1992 Constitution, which gives right to vote to every citizen of Ghana of eighteen years of age or above was an entrenched provision.

Article 290 (e) on Amendment of Entrenched Provisions categorically referred to Article 42; 43; 46; 49; 55 and 56 as an entrenched provision.

Mr Lartey, who was the GCPP Presidential Candidate for Elections 2000, quoted Article 292 titled Certificate of Compliance to support his argument;

"A bill for the amendment of this Constitution which has been passed in accordance with this Constitution, shall be assented to by the President

only if; it is accompanied by a certificate from the Electoral Commission, signed by the Chairman of the Commission and bearing the seal of the Commission, that the bill was approved at a referendum in accordance with this Chapter."

According to Article 290 (2, 3, 4 and 5) "A bill for the amendment of an entrenched provision shall, before parliament proceeds to consider it, be referred by the Speaker to the Council of State for its advice and the Council of State shall render advice on the bill within thirty days after receiving it.

"The bill shall be published in the Gazette but shall not be introduced into Parliament until the expiry of six months after the publication in the Gazette under this clause.

"After the bill has been read the first time in Parliament it shall not be proceeded with further unless it has been submitted to a referendum held throughout Ghana and at least 40 per cent of the persons entitled to vote, voted at the referendum and at least 70 per cent of the persons who voted cast their votes in favour of the passing of the bill.

"Where the bill is approved at the referendum, parliament shall pass it. Where a bill for the amendment of an entrenched provision has been passed by Parliament in accordance with this article, the President shall assent it."

According to the GCPP Leader, Parliament and the President dutifully failed to adhere to these constitutional provision; "ROPAA is therefore unconstitutional and must be discarded into the trash can immediately."

Mr Lartey said the GCPP would not participate in any discussion organised by the Electoral Commission through the Intra-Party Advisory Committee (IPAC) platform on ROPAA.

"Its unfortunate that my General Secretary failed to follow the National Democratic Congress (NDC) and the People's National Convention (PNC) who walked out during the recent IPAC discussion on ROPAA...that action of the General Secretary was inconsistent with GCPP's stand." He stressed; "I have led a coalition of opposition parties against the ROPAA and I will continue to do so, even if it demands going to court to ask for Constitutional interpretation, I will do so, all citizens need to defend the Constitution at all times."

The passage of the Bill was characterised by deep division between the Minority and Majority in Parliament. The Minority boycotted the House over the issue while two demonstrations were held by an anti-Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill group called Concerned Ghanaians.

After the passage of the Bill, there were calls on the President not to give his assent.

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