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Article 71 Remains A Threat To Ghana’s Democracy – Kofi Bentil



Vice President of IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil, has proposed the amendment of Article 71 of the 1992 Constitution which deals with special wages and emoluments for the political class and other high-ranking political appointees.

According to him, the particular constitutional provision will continuously pose a serious threat to the country’s democracy.

Speaking on Accra-based Joy News, the lawyer stated that the time has come for the subject of a constitutional review to be taken seriously.

Mr. Bentil stressed that it is time to enforce the reviews proposed by the Constitutional Review Commission which was set up under the late President John Evans Atta Mills.

“It is time to take Constitutional Review seriously but let us not confuse that with the Constitutional Review Commission. I have had the opportunity to say elsewhere that the Constitutional Review Commission much as it came out of a good place, it was an effort based on popular sentiments.

“We all wanted something done about the Constitution. The Review Commission it set up, its legal basis were questionable and what some of us feared was that you can go all the way and you will hit a snug because it really cannot effect the change we want.

“Effectively, what the Constitutional Review Commission did was collect views about what should be amended in the Constitution. What we want is for us to move from there to do the actual amendment,” he said.

Mr. Bentil added that the election of District Chief Executives and Municipal Chief Executives ought to be relooked at.

In his view, they should be elected on a nonpartisan basis, contrary to the insistence of President Nana Akufo-Addo that their election should be along partisan lines.

On the issue of Article 71, being a threat to the country’s democracy, he stated: “I totally agree that there are a number of things we need to review in this Constitution and we should give ourselves a certain timeline to do it. 30 years is a long time. Definitely one of them is the election of District Chief Executives and Municipal Chief Executives.

“If we cannot take accountability of our political heads down to the grassroots, we are not doing well in this democracy. There are other things for instance….we need to absolutely amend Article 71.

“We need to make sure that what Article 71 represents, which is really wrong, is removed because, that, I have said poses a threat to this democracy. Article 71 put in another sense is the elite organising for themselves a way to escape the average reality of the common Ghanaian.

“Go and look at what it says in Article 71 and that why we are discussing the disparity in wages and salary today where we have some people earning a lot of money, leaving the rest behind. Article 71 is a constant threat to this democracy.

“We need to review it and make sure that people who lead us are connected to our common reality. They cannot by law or any other means check out of our common reality and erect for themselves a different status within this same country,” he said.

Ghana on April 28 marked 30 years since the return to constitutional rule.

President Akufo-Addo in an address touted the gains of democracy and tasked Ghanaians to work towards consolidating it.

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