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… Constitutional Matters arouse
The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye, was last Sunday, January 21, 2018 sworn in as acting president of the country at a colourful ceremony in Parliament. This was after a short notice of the emergency recall of Parliament that day for the function.
Being the second time he was acting in such a capacity since he assumed the speakership, the occasion though, marked with pump and pageantry, left in its trail controversy as it raised several constitutional issues.
Ironically, the speaker, who was to be sworn-in as President, was the very one who sat in the chair to read the President’s message of absence from the country and that of the Vice-President and the constitutional provision that he (speaker) acts as President in the absence of the President and his vice.
Thereafter, he left the seat and was ushered in to be sworn-in as acting president, amidst shouts of “Presido! Presido!! Reshuffle! Salary increase” and many more from the Minority.
The Chief Justice, Sophia Akufo then swore-in the speaker by administrating to him the Oaths of Presidency and Allegiance, with the MPs again shouting “Yea, Yea!” after which he was briskly whisked away.
The first Deputy Speaker, Hon. Joe Osei-Owusu, then assumed the speakership and was welcomed with “Vice-President!” from the minority.
In his comment, Hon. Haruna Idrisu, Minority Leader commended the Speaker on his elevation to the presidency.
He then started the issue of the constitutional matters that were associated with the swearing-in of the speaker as acting president and called for its amendment.
Citing Articles 60(11) (12) that empowered the speaker to act as president in the absence of the first and second gentleman of the land, he argued that the constitutional provision stated that “if the two were unable to perform their duty”. However, he argued further, the absence of the President from the country, even to perform extra-territorial duties does not mean inability on his part. He subsequently, called for a second look and possible review of that clause.
His position was shared by Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu while wishing the speaker the best of luck in his new capacity.
On his part, he was amazed at the way the speaker entered the House for the swearing-in, and the way he exited after the occasion, contrary to what the President does on such occasions.
Thereafter, Hon. Mahama Ayariga, NDC Spokesperson on communication threw more light on this constitutional provision and reiterated for its amendment, stressing that this swearing of the speaker was unnecessary.
WHAT OTHER MPS SAID
On his part Hon. Ibrahim Ahmed, MP for Banda and Deputy Minority Chief Whip, while calling for the amendment of this portion of the constitution, opined that it was also a waste of time and resources, as all MPs who attend the function will have to be given T&T. Look at the cost to the state! He yelled.
He argued that once the speaker had been sworn-in as acting President before, the status quo should be maintained anytime the occasion arose.
Hon. Opare-Ansah Frederick, MP for Suhum held the view that this swearing-in of the speaker in the absence of the President should be looked at critically. This is because, even in his absence, he is performing his Presidential duties, and by way of technology, he can even rule from wherever he is. He argued that this occasion raises two presidents for the country at a time; a situation that does not urger well for the country.
When the Clerk to Parliament, Mr. Emmanuel Anyimadu was contacted, he indicated that all those MPs agitating for the amendment should initiate it through a bill or any other concerned Ghanaian could do that through a Private Personal Bill, which the speaker will really support and endorse.
Source: S.O. Ankamah