Swearing in acting President: Constitution has been misinterpreted – Amoako Baah

A Political Scientist, Dr. Richard Amoako Baah says the controversy surrounding the swearing in an acting president, has arisen out of misinterpretation of Article 60 of the constitution.

According to him, article 60 (8) clearly indicates the circumstances under which the Speaker of Parliament should be sworn in, in the absence of the President and his vice. 

Article 60 (8) states: “Whenever the President is absent from Ghana or is for any other reason unable to perform the functions of his office, the Vice-President shall perform the function of the President until the President returns or is able to perform”.

The President John Mahama who is also the ECOWAS Chairman, had travelled to the country’s troubled neighbour- Burkina Faso- Wednesday, November 5, 2014 to mediate with the military leaders on the need to transfer power back to civilian rule. His vice, Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur is also in India, on official assignment. 

This then creates a vacancy that must be filled as required under Article 60 (12) of the constitution. “The Speaker shall, before commencing to perform the functions of the President under clause (11) of this article, take and subscribe the oath set out in relation to the office of President”.

However, Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho did not subscribe the oath on the advice of the Chief Justice because, he had taken a similar oath in September, 2013 when he acted in the stead of the President and his Vice.

According to Majority Chief Whip, Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak Mr. Doe Adjaho was prepared…dressed and ready to be sworn-in” but for the decision by the Chief Justice, Georgina Woode that the previous oath he took for the same purpose, still holds.

Speaking Thursday on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM, the Head of the Political Science Department at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) maintains, the argument is flawed.

“There’s no merit in that argument at all, I don’t know why that should even become an issue,” he said noting that “We have been misinterpreting [article 60] the constitution completely”.

He said although the president and his vice are out of the country, they are duly performing their respective duties in their official capacities, hence it was needless to swear in an acting president.

“The president is performing his functions as president all be it in Burkina Faso so is the vice president [who is in India]…it doesn’t mean he is not in charge,” Dr. Amoako Baah argued.

He also said the decision by the Chief Justice not to swear in the Speaker means the constitution “has been violated”. He explained once the president returned to the country the Speaker ceases to play the role as acting president. He said, therefore, that the Speaker ought to have taken the oath again.

“We are not supposed to do it the way we are doing it,” he told host of the Show, Kojo Yankson.

Use of technology
Arguing in support of political scientist, Legal practitioner, Samson Lardy Anyenini said the president can still function outside the borders of the country through technology as acknowledged by the Constitution Review Commission (CRC) which has also recommended an amendment of some clauses in Article 60.

“They acknowledge that being out of the country does not render him unable to perform his functions. However, there is the need to have someone physically present in the country to perform the functions of the president…”

Mr. Anyenini said the Review Commission did recommend the avoidance of the situation where the two leaders, [president and his vice] would be absent at the same time “but when necessary, the speaker should be presumed… and not to have been sworn in”. Story by Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | Jerry Tsatro Mordy | [email protected]

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