The Curious Case of SALL

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Samuel Nartey

In this post I summarize the main events that resulted in the Ghana Electoral Commission not holding parliamentary elections in the traditional areas of Santrokofi, Akpafu, Lipke and Lolobi (SALL).

Events

  1. October 12, 2017 – Presidents Sets make Commission of Inquiry into the Creation of New Regions 2017 (CI 105).
  2. October 19, 2017 – The President opens a 9-person commission chaired by Justice Brobbey to deal with the petitions made by residents of Brong-Ahafo (BA), Northern (NR), Volta (VR) and Western ( VR) submitted to the President.
  3. June 26, 2018 – The Justice Brobbey Commission presents its work to the President and recommends the creation of six new regions from the existing BA, NR, VR and WR.
  4. October 30, 2018 – The 2018 ordinance (CI 109) on the referendum (creation of new regions) is presented to Parliament and forwarded to the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation and Report.
  5. November 2018 – Parliament recommends that CI 109 be adopted and put into effect after 21 days of sitting in accordance with Article 11, Paragraph 7 of the 1992 Constitution.
  6. December 27, 2018 – The Electoral Commission (EC) holds a referendum in parts of the existing BA, NR, VR and WR that are affected by the proposal to create six new regions. More than 80% of the over 50% turnout approved the creation of the new regions.
  7. January 2, 2019 – The referendum results of the EU gazettes.
  8. February 1, 2019 – President makes CI 112, CI 113, CI 114, CI 115, CI 116, CI 117 to create the Oti, Bono East, Ahafo, Savannah, North East and Western North regions.
  9. According to the schedule for CI 112, the traditional areas of SALL fall under the Oti region. The instrument for the representation of the people (constituencies) 2016 (CI 95), which delimits the constituency boundaries of Ghana, assigns the traditional areas mentioned to the Hohoe constituency in the Volta region.
  10. December 17, 2019 – The EC holds elections at the district level and elections to the section committee nationwide. The Ordinance on Electoral Districts and Designation of Units 2019 (CI 119) limited the boundaries of various districts and placed SALL in the Jasikan district in the Oti region.
  11. February 2020 – The chiefs of the traditional Akpafu and Lolobi area files a matter with the Supreme Court regarding the assignment of Akapfu and Lolobi to the Jasikan district in the Oti region. The court canceled the matter because it did not have jurisdiction.
  12. June 24, 2020 – The Supreme Court in the Valentine Edem Dzatse v Henry Ametefe case ruled that SALL must be in the Oti region under Article 47 (2) and the provision in CI 95 SALL is void in the Hohoe constituency of the Volta region. As a result, the court ordered the EC to take the necessary steps to amend CI 95 for a constituency review to take effect on January 7, 2021.
  13. July 7, 2020 – The EC publishes Instrument 2020 (CI 128) for the representation of the people (constituencies), which came into force on August 11, 2020. The EC uses SALL in the Buem constituency with Jasikan as the district headquarters.
  14. August 3, 2020 – The President instructs the Regional Minister through the Minister of Local Government to ensure that the people of SALL have their local government status before the end of 2020, rather than being accepted into Jasikan District.
  15. October 6, 2020 – The Local Government Instrument (Guan District Assembly) (Institution) 2020 will be presented to Parliament along with six other Local Government Instruments.
  16. November 6, 2020 – LI for Guan District matures in parliament and comes into force. The LIs for Krachi West, Kwahu South, Asante Akim North, Akatsi South, and Bulisa North have also matured and given community assembly status.
  17. November 7, 2020 – Parliament is taking a break before the 2020 general election.
  18. December 6, 2020 – The EC announces that voters in Guan District will only vote in the presidential elections, but not in the parliamentary elections in Buem constituency.

Conclusion

Article 47 (2) provides that a constituency cannot fall into more than one region. In addition to this requirement, the EC has determined that a constituency boundary cannot fall into two districts. While this position is not supported by Article 47 (2), this view has been confirmed by the EC based on its interpretation of local government law since 2003. (See: Electoral Commission of Ghana – 2004 elections: Ghana’s parliamentary and presidential elections. Friedrich Ebert Foundation 2005). After 2003, EC measures increased the number of constituencies from 200 to 275.

Since parliament is on break and there is 26 years of “precedent” for the delimitation of constituencies after the creation of new districts, the EC was unable to take the relevant CI in parliament for the required twenty-one days before the general elections on 7 December 2020 .

We took advantage of the misinterpretation of the EC in relation to the delimitation of constituency boundaries. It is time for the EC to review constituency redistribution to ensure that the population in each constituency corresponds as closely as possible to the population quota set out in Article 47 of the Constitution. (See Daniel A. Smith The Redefinition and Redistribution of Constituencies in Ghana. CDD Briefing Paper Vol. 10 No. 2).