Story: Kwame Asare Boadu, Kumasi
THE Ashanti Regional House of Chiefs (ARHC) has called on the Electoral Commission (EC) to organise immediate elections to make it possible for the National House of Chiefs (NHC) to be reconstituted.
Making the demand in Kumasi, the house said it was not satisfied with the resolution passed by members of the NHC to extend their mandate when under the constitution, their term of office expired in November, last year.
The ARHC also questioned the failure of the EC to organise elections at the ARHC to elect their members for the NHC.
It reminded the EC of the expiration of the term of office of the current membership of the regional house and the need for fresh elections to be organised to enable them elect their members for the NHC subsequently.
While the ARHC is questioning the decision by the house to extend its term, the leadership of the NHC said elections could be organised to elect new members to the NHC only when a matter before the Supreme Court had been resolved.
The mandate of the NHC like the regional houses of chiefs as guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution is two terms of three years each.
The current membership of the house, under the presidency of Odeneho Gyapong Ababio has already served two terms in office.
However, when all were expecting the EC to organise elections for the various regional houses of chiefs to elect members to constitute the NHC, the NHC passed a resolution at a meeting in Kumasi in December, extending their term until the resolution of the matter at the Supreme Court.
Odeneho Ababio explained that the decision to extend their term was premised on the court action.
He pointed out that it was only when the matter was resolved that fresh elections could be organised in the regional houses of chiefs.
But, the ARHC, in a letter to the NHC, has asked it to furnish it with a copy of the said writ that allowed it to extend its mandate and suspend all elections to the regional houses of chiefs.
Prior to that, the ARHC at its last meeting in Kumasi, chaired by Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, reminded the EC about the expiry of the house’s term of office and the need for the commission to organise fresh elections to enable them elect their members for the NHC.
The regional house emphasised that the members of the NHC and, indeed, the EC would be acting contrary to the constitution if they failed to organise the elections.
A source at the ARHC told the Daily Graphic that the national house was yet to reply to their request for a copy of the said writ.
The source, however, said the house may take another line of action to compel the EC to organise the elections if the EC persistently failed to heed their request.
Odeneho Gyapong Ababio also told the Daily Graphic about the conflict over the period of their mandate.
He said while the President of the NHC is a member of the Council of State and was expected to serve four years, the constitution also stipulated that members of the NHC served three years.
“This means that the NHC president will complete his term of office when there is one year for him to serve as Member of the Council of State.”
He stressed the need for amendments to be made to bring the term of office of the president of the NHC at par with the President of the Republic to remove the discrepancies.
He said suggestions had been made in the new Chieftaincy Bill, which was yet to be passed by parliament.