Majority Leader in Parliament, Cletus Avoka, has defended the EC’s move to create additional 45 constituencies to bring the total number of constituencies in the country to 275.
Speaking on pm:EXPRESS Thursday, he said nobody can fault the EC for reviewing the number of constituencies upward – shooting in the foot, a minority argument which suggested the EC has no legal mandate to do so.
The minority sought to argue that the review in Article 47(1) does not necessarily mean “to add on” but Cletus Avoka also opined it does not mean “downward”.
On Tuesday, there was a major uproar on the floor of the house as minority MP’s prevented moves by the EC to lay a Constitutional Instrument which would give it the backing to create the new constituencies.
Despite their protest though, Speaker Bamford Addo allowed the papers to be laid prompting a major objection from the minority who put on record the Speaker was perpetuating an illegality.
On the heels of the Speaker’s moves, the EC Thursday unveiled the list of the new constituencies despite a court action which seeks to prevent it from going ahead.
Cletus Avoka, MP for Zebila told show host Stephen Anti that nobody questioned the EC in 2004 when it added 30 new constituencies to existing ones and wondered why the question was arising this year. “what the minority is saying does not fault the EC as far as its work in creating new constituencies is concerned.
When you talk about creating constituencies, like the constitution provided, it can either be reviewing upward or downward and the EC has opted like it happened in the past during the time of the NPP administration to review the constituencies by increasing them from 200 to 230.
The EC did that based on the 1992 constitution and nobody drew the attention of the Ghanaian community to article 47 (3/4) etc”.
He debunked suggestions that the EC is being pressured by government to go forth with the creation of the new constituencies because of gerrymandering. “there is no evidence to support this allegation.
There is no iota of truth in this. The EC is a constitutional body and the constitution is very clear on this - that in the exercise of its duty, it is not bound by the instruction or orders or influence of any authority”.
But in an objection, MP for Nsuta Kwamang, Kwame Osei Prempeh, said though the EC has the constitutional power, it should also exercise the constitutional burden put on it “you’ve been given a mandate to create constituencies.
It is a discretionary power and the constitution says that if you are exercising that discretionary power, “publish regulations, rules, so that everybody can be sure on the basis why you are doing it.
I would want to know why the EC would not want to create a constituency in Kumasi, at Kwadaso where the population is so huge but would want to create a constituency in Kumawu or in Ahafo Ano South.
Kumasi alone has over 2.3 million people by the last census. And if you decide to leave Kumasi and create in places like Afram Plains North constituency which comes from Kumawu where I can confirm the population won’t even be 20,000 …”
Opposition parties are concerned that the Electoral Commission is not being fair and open and argue that there are indications the new constituencies are in strongholds of the ruling party.