Ghanaians head to the polls in local elections but constitutional referendum delayed

Ghana will hold its district level elections today for 254 local government units. The units are classified as metropolitan, municipal

ghana voters

Photo: Pius Utomi Ekpei

Ghana will hold its district level elections today for 254 local government units.

The units are classified as metropolitan, municipal or district assemblies and are the primary authorities for planning and implementing policies at the local level.

A constitutional referendum was also scheduled for today, which would have provided for direct elections of the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCE) and allowed political parties to sponsor local candidates. In a 2017 AfroBarometer survey, 69% Ghanaians supported the direct elections clause, but 51% were against the partisan politicisation of local candidates. However, President Akufo-Addo cancelled the referendum on December 1, saying more consultations with the public are necessary.

Currently, the president appoints the MMDCEs, which gives him wide discretion over local polities and prevents real decentralisation in Ghana.

National elections are due next year, and local democracy is not expected to strengthen until then. Meanwhile, the Ghana Electoral Commission and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development have been collaborating to provide the candidates a common platform on which to campaign and aid people with disabilities to reach polling stations.

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