The Constitutional Instrument (CI) for the creation of the Guan District matured on Friday, November 6, 2020, paving the way for the creation of the new district.
The areas that make up the Guan district are Santrofi, Akpafu, Likpe and Lolobi (SALL).
The area was originally part of the Hohoe Municipality of the Volta Region, but was included in the Oti region upon the creation of the six new regions in Ghana.
This, by law, excludes the four traditional areas from the Hohoe constituency where it was previously part of before the new regions were created.
Article 47 (2) provides that no constituency shall fall within more than one region and since Hohoe (in the Volta region) and the Guan District which is to be created for the people of SALL (in Oti region) now fall under two different regions, the Guan district can no longer be part of the Hohoe constituency.
Though the area was part of the Buem constituency, with the creation of the new district, the EC was under obligation to create a new constituency to give the people a representation in the 8th parliament.
However, this was not done before the December, 7 general elections.
A day before the elections on Sunday December 6, 2020, the EC issued a statement directing that eligible voters in the Guan District could only take part in the presidential election, but not in the parliamentary election.
“As a result of the creation of the Guan District Local Government (Guan District Assembly) Instrument, 2020 and pending the creation of the Guan Constituency, eligible voters in the Guan District will vote only in the Presidential Election but not in the Parliamentary Election in the Buem Constituency,” the statement read in part.
Consequently, the people of the Guan District could not elect a Member of Parliament to represent them in the 8th parliament which takes effect on January 7, 2021.
Calls for constituency elections in the Guan Constituency before January 7, 2021
Following the failure of the EC to conduct parliamentary elections in the area, there have been incessant calls for the creation of the constituency and subsequently, giving the people the opportunity to elect an MP before the 8th parliament is inaugurated on January 7, 2021.
The Supreme Court, late last month, ruled that any review of constituencies per Article 47 (6) takes effect upon the next dissolution of parliament.
Therefore, if the constituency is created after the inauguration of the 8th parliament, some argue, the people of SALL can only elect a representative in the 2024 elections.
A renowned US-based Ghanaian lawyer, Prof. Stephen Kwaku Asare, known on Facebook as Kwaku Azar has described as an impeachable offense, the EC’s failure to organize parliamentary elections in the Guan Constituency before January 7.
“Such an omission is unprecedented and may well be an impeachable offense since it is a willful violation of the Constitution that strikes at the heart of representation,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
Petition to Speaker of Parliament
The people of the Akpafu and Lolobi Traditional Areas on December 22, 2020, petitioned the Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Mike Ocquay, courting his support to regain their right to be represented in the next parliament.
The petitioners want the parliamentary elections in the Hohoe Constituency annulled to allow them vote in that constituency.
They accuse the EC of denying them their right to take part in the parliamentary election in spite of an earlier ruling by the Supreme Court directing that the four traditional areas (SALL) remain under the Hohoe constituency until a new constituency is created for the area.
“The announcement came to us as a surprise because a prior Supreme Court ruling of July 7, 2020, clarified that in the absence of a new constituency, we remain and should be allowed to vote under the Hohoe Constituency until the requisite legal and constitutional steps were met,” the petition read.
They believe the EC has been compromised by a deliberate agenda to disenfranchise them and breach their constitutional right to representation in parliament.
Speaking to this reporter in a telephone conversation, the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Parliamentary Affairs, Dr. Rashid Dramani said Ghana is in a constitutional crisis and needs urgent steps to repair its democracy.
He blamed the current situation on the executive and legislative arms of government for not being proactive enough to prevent the issue from degenerating to this level.
“We are going to have a skewed democracy because we have some people in the country who will not be represented in parliament. It’s clear that this cannot be done before January 7,” he argued.
He said the issue is the first of its kind in the African continent, adding that the country has not been fair to the people of the Guan District.
Supreme Court dismisses injunction against Amewu’s swearing-in
The Supreme Court in a unanimous decision on December 5, 2021 dismissed an injunction placed by the Ho High Court against the swearing-in of MP elect for the Hohoe Constituency, John Peter Amewu.
The High Court in Ho granted the injunction restraining the EC from gazzetting Mr. Amewu as MP for Hohoe.
The complaints who hail from the Guan district demanded for the enforcement of their fundamental human rights, particularly, their right to vote.
But the Attorney General filed a case at the apex court challenging the jurisdiction of the High Court to grant the injunction.
The dismissal of the injunction therefore means Mr. Amewu will be sworn in on January 7 as MP for Hohoe.
The court however, declined to grant the relief of the Attorney General which sought to restrain the High Court from hearing the rest of the case which relates to alleged human rights violations.
The EC was unable to create the Guan Constituency before January 7
It does appear the EC is currently constrained in initiating processes for the creation of the Guan constituency.
A source within the EC told the Ghana News Agency that the commission was not able to create the constituency in the Guan District because the Constitutional Instrument (CI) for the creation of constituency could not have matured before the dissolution of the 7th parliament on January 6, 2021.
Even though the CI for the creation of the Guan District matured on November 6, 2020, parliament went on recess on November 9, 2020, and resumed on December 14 making it impossible for the CI, if laid, to meet the 21-day maturity period in parliament.
“If we had initiated the process in the 7th Parliament, the CI could not have matured. In that case, the process will have to start all over again in the 8th Parliament,” the source told the GNA.
Could voters in the Guan District have voted in another constituency?
Local Governance Act, 2016 (Act 936) provides in Section 7 (6) that a person shall not at any time be a member of more than one District Assembly.
It is, therefore, not legally right, according to the source at EC, for an MP to be voted for by people in two different districts.
What is the way forward?
Private legal practitioner, Lawyer Martin Kpebu, says the decision of the EC to create the constituency followed a directive of the Supreme Court in the case of Valentine Edem Dzatse V Henry Ametefe and four others.
For a solution to the matter, Mr. Kpebu advised the EC to go back to the Supreme Court for further directions as to how to handle the situation.
“In the absence of a direction from the Supreme Court, the EC cannot successfully create the Guan Constituency for the people to vote before January 7. Since they were carrying out a court order but didn’t finish, they should go back to the Supreme Court for directions.
I believe that once they have started and got caught by time, the court will see how to give them further extension and to arrange so that these people will get their constituency,” he advised.
Dr. Rashid Dramani also believes the court remains the only option now for the people of the Guan District.