Feature Article of Thursday, 13 September 2012

Columnist: Owusu-Ansah, David

Crisis over the creation of new constituencies

for the 2012 election

For what it is worth, I thought that I should provide this information for our readers. In the argument presented against the new constituencies, the issue of timing has been presented as justification. It is interesting how the positions taken for and against the EC are similar to those made in our immediate past. As I read through the Historical Dictionary of Ghana (Third Edition), which I authored, I came across the chronological entry of 29 December 2003 which read as follows: “The Electoral Commission announced its intention to create 30 new constituencies in time for the 2004 elections. While the Commission defended the action as timely, several opposition voices described the election-year decision as unfortunate.” On 4 March 2004, there was another chronological entry that stated thus: “The Supreme Court ruled in support of the Electoral Commission’s decision to create 30 new constituencies prior to the conduct of the December elections.”

In a Ghanaweb commentary on the same day of the Supreme Court decision, references were made to those who still opposed the EC on the creation of the additional constituencies. For example, “Mr. Justice George Lamptey, a former Supreme Court Judge and past President of the Ghana Bar Association, Mr. Sam Okudzeto, advised the EC against the creation of the additional constituencies for this year's election because it would amount to a violation of the 1992 Constitution.”

Surely, timing is everything and a decision by the Court in March 2004 to allow the 30 new constituencies ahead of a December election is not the same as a possible September 2012 decision ahead of a December elections. What I keep thinking about though is a simple one. Yes, the people will vote for their president and that may not be affected by the addition of 45 new constituencies, but how does parliament that is election with 230 constituencies restructure itself if the additional constituencies were to be created after the 2012 elections but prior to the 2016 contest? Will there be separate elections for the new constituencies before 2016 and will the newly elected members join the parliament that would be already in session? If so, will this affect the majority-minority operations in the legislature and in what way? I am sure that an inter-party advisory committee still exists for the EC to consult. There is surely much work to be done for peaceful elections in December.

David Owusu-Ansah, PhD
Professor of History and author of the editions of the Historical Dictionary of Ghana.