You can’t call off a referendum that has a CI – Prof Kwaku Azar

In a televised speech on Sunday, President Akufo-Addo announced that a decision has been taken to stop the processes for the referendum after “broad consultation with other stakeholders”.

President Akufo-Addo accused the opposition National Democratic Congress of bad faith and hypocrisy. 

“The time has come to strip the process of its hypocrisy, and accept and work with the reality of party involvement. It is on this basis that I proceeded in subsequently instructing the Minister for Local Government and Rural Development to initiate a parliamentary process for the repeal of Article 55(3) of the Constitution,” he said. 

“I thought there was general consensus after meetings with three of my predecessors, but the sudden U-turn of the National Democratic Congress have left me with no other option than to further engage other stakeholders,” President Akufo-Addo added. 

However, Legal expert and US-based accounting professor Stephen Kwaku Asare popularly known as Kwaku Azar has questioned the President’s right to call off the referendum. 

He argued that an impending defeat for a referendum question which the president supports not ground to call it off.

According to him, the referendum cannot be withdrawn when there is a Constitutional Instrument (C.I) on it. 

According to him, the legal thing to do to stop the referendum is to annul the C.I with 2/3rd majority votes. 

“The writ of referendum issued by the EC pursuant to Article 290(4) and Regulation 13 of CI 120 has been suspended by executive fiat. 

Briefly, the story is as follows: 

The President can not speak to the EC through TV broadcasts. The EC cannot suspend the referendum unless CI 120(13) is annulled. The bill cannot be withdrawn while there is a CI based on it! To annul the CI requires the vote of 2/3 majority of MPs.

Rule of law is complicated when bills, CIs, and writ of referendum are triggered in a constitutional plane. One cannot simply withdraw a bill that has been held in abeyance by a CI.” He pointed out. 

Earlier, Prof Azar had advised the “President to resist the temptation to call off the referendum. His team has had over 36 months to think through this and the window for calling off the referendum was shut when a CI was laid in Parliament to issue a writ of referendum. This is a multi-year, multi-department, public-private project for which we have spent all kinds of resources. Many of us have rejected it months ago but the referendum train has just moved right on. Well, let’s go vote! “ 

“I do not think the President can set aside the CI. Nor should we interpret our laws to allow one person to be able to call off a legally authorized referendum on the eve of the event,” he added. 


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