The governing NPP is set to witness a political duel as members with dual citizenship fight off a constitutional amendment proposal to bar them from holding party positions.
In a press statement released by NPP-USA, the Diaspora-based members threw several adjectives to register their disdain at the proposal.
They called it "inconceivable" and an "albatross" and said the extraordinary conference slated for Sunday has been "hijacked by hawks" within the party.
The proposal to exclude them is pushed by the parliamentary caucus who say it is to harmonise the party's constitution with the country's 1992 constitution whose Citizenship Act bars dual citizens from holding political office.
But the NPP-USA would feel upstaged by the proposal because they have backed a bill which seeks to remove from the 1992 constitution the "unnecessary exclusionary rule".
They have submitted to parliament, the proposed Bill to amend Articles 94(2)(a) and 8(2) of the Constitution as well as Section 16 of the Citizenship Act.
"We know the president is in support of an Amendment Bill proposed by Dr Kwaku Asare and his team. We have submitted same to the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Majority Leader, Attorney General and the minority in parliament.
This Bill does not cost this country anything and we see no reason why it should be held for this long without passage," the statement said.
But the MPs who are to discuss this bill in the near future appear disinterested in repealing the existing law and want to stretch it to include the NPP constitution.
"As a party that believes in equality of opportunities and equal citizenship, we believe we should be at the forefront of repealing this provision from the 1992 Constitution, not importing it into our Constitution".
One of the immediate casualties would be Richard Ahiagba, a member of the NPP USA who is also aspiring to be the party's General Secretary.
The NPP-USA argue the value of diasporan's contribution to the party does not deserve the amendment proposal being pushed.
The external members want the party to end the political discrimination because "our children, grandchildren and future generations who have no hand in where they are born deserve better and Ghana deserves better".
The NPP-USA said if the party goes ahead to vote for the proposal then it "will effectively be a signal that we are no longer welcome in NPP".
Read full press statement
NPP-USA PRESS RELEASE IN SUPPORT OF NPP-EXTERNAL BRANCHES REJECTION OF THE AD HOC CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW COMMITTEE (CRC) REPORT ON THE PROPOSED CONSTITIONAL AMENDMENTS.
There have been developments leading to our great tradition’s plans for a conference in Kumasi this Sunday, December 17, 2017. As you may be aware, on August 26, 2017, during our delegates conference at Cape Coast, we resolved to reconvene at a time convenient to resolve all unresolved issues when we met in Cape Coast.
Rather unfortunate, this innocent and harmless venture has been hijacked by the hawks in our great party to push their agenda of exclusion in our party; a position we have been working diligently with our legislature to remove from our body politic.
It is inconceivable that a nation like ours would intentionally remove a chunk of its citizenry through machinations of a few with parochial interests. We are respectfully asking that the party honors its obligations to Diasporas irrespective of their political affiliation to serve this great country of ours devoid of impediments and discrimination.
We know the president is in support of an Amendment Bill proposed by Dr Kwaku Asare and his team. We have submitted same to the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, Majority Leader, Attorney General and the minority in parliament.
This Bill does not cost this country anything and we see no reason why it should be held for this long without passage. This unnecessary exclusionary rule has become the basis of our agitation within our party today. We are not here to mention names of past and present government functionaries and parliamentarians who have held travelling documents and served honorably in this country.
Mr. Speaker, end the discrimination among Ghanaians today by causing to be passed the proposed Bill to amend Articles 94(2)(a) and 8(2) of the Constitution as well as Section 16 of the Citizenship Act. Our children, grandchildren and future generations who have no hand in where they are born deserve better and Ghana deserves better.
It is universally accepted that provisions of a Constitution regulating its amendment are not merely directory but are mandatory. As such, strict observance of every substantial requirement is essential to the validity of any amendment. Article 18 of NPP’s Constitution governs amendments.
It requires that (i) notice of any proposed amendment shall be submitted in writing to the General Secretary not later than 2 months before the National Delegates Conference; (ii) (ii) the General Secretary must circulate the proposed amendment to every Regional and Constituency office at least 1 month before the congress; and (iii)(iii) at least 2/3 of the delegates at the congress cast their votes in favor of the amendment.
Our first attempt to consider proposed amendments at the Cape Coast National Delegates Conference did not come to fruition because delegates were not given sufficient time to study the proposed amendments. The pending extraordinary delegates conference was convened to give delegates sufficient time to study the proposals. Our hope was that the lessons of Cape Coast will lead to a process that conforms strictly to the Constitution to avoid additional problems.
It has, therefore, come to us and the entire external branches fraternity as a surprise that the National Council has appointed a 10-person ad hoc Constitutional Review Commission tasked to “critically examine the proposed amendments and to make recommendations to guide the debate.” Such recommendations have taken the form of whether particular proposals put forth by different groups or persons should be accepted or rejected.
Article 18 is clear that every proposed amendment is to come to the floor for debate unprejudiced by a prior evaluation by any organs of the Party! The notion of an ad hoc CRC recommending accept or reject decisions is entirely alien to the Constitution.
We, of course, reject this ad hoc Committee and find its recommendations highly irregular and prejudicial. We are particularly concerned by the Parliamentary caucus’s proposed amendment and ably supported by Eugene Antwi, a former Diasporan from England, which has been endorsed by the ad hoc Constitution Review Committee to the effect that “A member shall be disqualified from holding any office or contesting any election in the Party if he or she owes allegiance to a country other than Ghana.”
This phrase, which has been imported from the 1992 Constitution, is one that serves no useful purpose, is widely misunderstood, is often misapplied, and is used to target only some dual citizens. As a party that believes in equality of opportunities and equal citizenship, we believe we should be at the forefront of repealing this provision from the 1992 Constitution, not importing it into our Constitution.
The NPP-USA prides itself in welcoming all Ghanaians, based in the USA and other territories, to compete for its positions. We have no intention to discriminate among Ghanaians and wish to make it very clear that the passage of this amendment will effectively be a signal that we are no longer welcome in NPP. Article 1, clause 7 of the NPP Constitution states that one of our aims is to harness the full the human resources of the country.
We do not achieve this aim by excluding Ghanaians. We call on our Parliamentary caucus to work with Professor Kwaku Asare who has circulated a proposed bill to amend Articles 94(2)(a) and 8(2) of the Constitution as well as Section 16 of the Citizenship Act.
We are equally disturbed by the contempt with which the ad hoc CRC has dealt with our proposal to be represented on the National Council. The ad hoc CRC has rejected this proposal on grounds that it “will create a lot of practical difficulties.” What practical problems are created by our nominating someone to serve on the Council? If past presidential candidates belong to the Council, is it too much for the external branches to have a voice at the Council? As a final matter, we are troubled by the growing incumbent protection plans that are being hatched by the parliamentary caucus.
Article 11 governs the selection of our parliamentary candidates. Moreover, it is trite that Article 11 can only be amended by the process specified in Article 18. We, therefore, are at a loss by the recent directive purportedly issued by the National Council that MMDCEs and other regional executives wishing to contest against incumbent NPP MPs should resign their positions 3 years in advance of the general elections.
This directive therefore excludes all regional executives and MMDCEs who have not resigned their positions as at December 7, 2016. Not only is this directive unconstitutional, it is clearly counterproductive. We look forward to debating the proposed amendments at the congress floor and call on all delegates to reject the ad hoc CRC and its recommendations!
Every motion should be considered on the floor by the delegates and be voted on as required by our constitutional provisions. Any alien attempts to circumvent the process should be rejected by all democratically minded persons in our great tradition.
NPP-USA without any reservation supports the stands taken by the entire Diaspora membership and entreat our National Party Executives to immediately withdraw this albatross before it degenerates into a serious problem for our party.
Thank you. NPP-USA INC. COMMUNICATIONS