Speaker assumes Presidency for the second time in acting capacity under controversial circumstances

The Speaker Rt Hon Edward Doe Adjaho has for the second time, this time under controversial and what some have described as strange circumstances assumed the reins of power.

The 1992 constitution stipulates that the Speaker shall before commencing to perform the functions of President take and subscribe the oath set out in relation to the office of the President.

And with the absence of both President John Mahama and his Vice Paa Kwesi Bekoe Amissah Arthur out of the country, it was only prudent that the Speaker swore the oath of the President before taking over the administration of the country on an interim basis.

President John Mahama is in Burkina Faso attempting to resolve the political crisis in the West African country.

His Vice is also on official assignment in India, thereby making the Speaker the automatic choice as acting president.

This was not the case today, as the Chief Justice, Georgina Theodora Wood left Parliament disappointed when, Rt Hon Edward Doe Adjaho reportedly declined to take the oath with the explanation that he had already taken it on September 19, 2013 when the president and his vice were out of the country in similar circumstances.

He argued that he was only a Ceremonial President for now and the oath he swore a year ago should still be in force.

After a brief meeting between the leadership of the House and the Chief Justice, it was decided that the Speaker’s position would hold.

Georgina Woode therefore left the chamber without performing the duty for which she came.

This development raises further controversy on the need for the Speaker to be sworn into office when the president and his vice are out of jurisdiction with some arguments that even if the president is out of the country, he is still acting as president wherever he goes and to have a speaker sworn-in as president means there will be two president’s acting in that capacity.

The acting President Doe Adjaho then communicated to the Legislators, his decision not to take the oath of President.

“Honorable members you will recall that, yesterday I read a communication from His Excellency the President, informing the house of the absence of both the President and the Vice President from the country. Pursuant to article 60 clause 11 and 12 of the constitution I am enjoined to perform the functions of the President from the period of his absence from the country.….Honorable members, leadership in consultation with the Chief Justice this morning in my lobby, and after careful reading of the relevant provisions of the constitution and the oath I took on the 19th of September 2013, I arrive at the conclusion that it will not be necessary to subscribe to another Presidential oath. Honorable members, I assume the office,” Doe Adjaho told the Legislators.

But this act by the Speaker generated a heated debate as some Members of Parliament questioned the wisdom in the “refusal” of the Speaker to take the oath of Presidency.

One of such MP’s, representing the people of Bekwai, Joseph Osei Owusu, wondered why the Speaker refused to take the oath since the constitution clearly stipulated that he needed to take an oath before assuming the governance of the country.

“The Speaker’s argument is that he was sworn in some time in August or there about 2013. And in his view, that is sufficient for all time. I find myself unable to agree with him, because the constitution says before he assumes or acting on behalf of the President, he must take the oath. My view is that any time he takes the oath; it is for the specific limited period that the President is absent. If you take the case of today, we were informed that the President will return later today so he asked for this period off,” he told Live News’ Parliamentary Correspondent, Ekow Annan.

Explaining further, Mr Osei Owusu who also happens to be a Constitutional Lawyer said “his interpretation and apparently an interpretation suggested by the Chief Justice is that once he takes that oath it is for all time, I beg to differ. In her view the oath that was taken last year should be sufficient to apply to this occasion too. I think that’s a misinterpretation, I disagree with her if indeed what I heard is true. This means that the Speaker is acting without ascribing to the oath in the constitution. He is acting illegally, that is an interpretation that in this case, can be given to the situation.”

The Member of Parliament for Nkoranza North, Major (rtd) Derek Oduro also shared his thoughts on the issue and said the action of the Speaker had resulted in a vacuum at the Presidency.

“For now yes, because the constitution stipulates that. Article 60 mentions clearly that when the President is unavailable and the Vice President is also unavailable, then the Speaker must be sworn in to act on behalf of the President until he/she returns. Now the vacancy has been created, information has been given to Parliament; it has been read and we expect that the Speaker must be sworn in as we have done before. He is supposed to be sworn in…….because when the President comes back you will relinquish the appointment automatically. Yes there is power vacuum and the constitution doesn’t want to encourage that, because he has not been sworn in and is not known to the legal aspects of the country, we don’t have a President now” he said.

Speaking to Ekow Annan, the former Senior Military Officer turned Parliamentarian said notwithstanding the vacuum created, he was optimistic the Military wouldn’t take advantage of it.

“Ghanaian military, we are matured; we have graduated from a certain point to where we are now. And when it comes to the point where from our history, military is supposed to step in we exercise caution, the military exercises caution. We don’t do it because the constitution does, not allow them to take over. We only take over when there is total anarchy, when there is breakdown of law and order and the country is ungovernable. That is the time that the military must step in to save the country from collapse that is the situation,” he told Ekow Annan.

Ekow Annan/Live FM
[email protected]/twitter: ekowskare

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