The Majority Leader in parliament Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu has expressed fears of a possible constitutional crisis if the December 2020 polls are not conducted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to him, the constitutional crisis is possible because the 1992 constitution is ambiguous on who should steer the affairs of the nation if the sitting President’s tenure expires in unforeseen circumstances.
He made this comment while addressing members of parliament on Thursday, April 30, 2020.
“The President has assured that he does not want to go even one day beyond the constitutional mandate that he has to administer the affairs of this country. So, Mr. Speaker, we all have to look at the Electoral Commission to put in the required measures towards the conduct of the election because, the constitution as we all recognize is a bit ambivalent beyond January 7, 2020, when elections cannot be conducted or even in the case of any force Majeure who should be the President.”
The MP who doubles as Minister for Parliamentary Affairs noted some lacuna in the provision of the constitution concerning the current situation and called for measures to be put in place to address the situation.
“There is a bit of some lacuna except to say that for Parliament that in case of any emergence, provision is made and expressed under the constitution on how the life of Parliament is extended by one year in any event not more than four years everything by 12 months. In that period, who becomes the Head of State?
“Is it the Speaker in the absence of the President and Vice President, that is a bit troubling to us as a nation. In any event, the same constitution provides that when the speaker acts as President within three months, there should be the conduct of an election to elect a President. So there is a bit of conflicting situation in the constitution. So Mr. Speaker until all of us agree on something else, nothing responsible could be done so I hope that the appropriate thing is done.”
The conduct of the December 7, 2020 polls remains uncertain as many electoral activities in the build-up to the polls to be conducted by the EC has been put on hold due to the pandemic.
Currently, many people are doubtful of the ability of the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new register ahead of the parliamentary and presidential elections.
While some have said that the EC should use the old register to conduct the elections, others have also suggested that the EC can commence the compilation of the register in non-hotspots areas of the virus.
EC Suspends Compilation of new register
The Electoral Commission suspended its planned compilation of new voters’ register scheduled for April 18, 2020 because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
It has since not announced any new date for the exercise.
According to the commission, it is collaborating with health experts to decide on a more favourable date to commence the compilation of a new register depending on the pervasiveness of the pandemic.
The EC has said it wants to ensure that the register that is used on the election day is more credible and efficient than the existing one hence the need for a new Biometric Voter Management System (BVMS).
However, the EC’s decision has been met with criticisms from key political stakeholders, including the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC).