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A U.S based Ghanaian lecturer Prof Stephen Asare a.k.a Kwaku Azar has joined the conversation about decision by former President Mahama to contest for the office of President in 2020 with a brilliant article on his Facebook wall.
The astute scholar was reacting to an article authored by Ken Kuranchie on the matter.
Read Prof’s article –
“Brother Kenneth Agyei Kuranchie reading of Article 68(2) to disqualify former President John Dramani Mahama from running for the office of President is very interesting but probably also very wrong.
Article 68(2) provides that “The President shall not, on leaving office as President, hold any office of profit or emolument, except with the permission of Parliament, in any establishment, either directly or indirectly, other than that of the State.”
He argues that “once you become a former President, you fall under the control of Parliament. Therefore, the former President “cannot take any action concerning emoluments — including contesting for President of Ghana again — without seeking Parliament’s permission first.”
First, Article 68(2) does not concern itself with the qualifications of a President. Article 62 is the qualification clause and the only fetters there are age (40), birth citizenship, and qualification to be MP.
Second, even if one reads Article 68(2) with Kuranchie’s lens, one should not fail to notice that the limitation applies to non-state offices. The Presidency is a state office and will not fall under the category of offices for which the parliamentary approval is necessary.
Third, Kuranchie’s view, if adopted, will eviscerate the two term limit imposed by Article 66(2) and limit all President’s to one term. This is because all President’s, even re-elected incumbents, leave office before they can resume a second term. The window of leaving office and resuming office for those re-elected incumbents is very short, almost invincible, but the short duration does not negate the stark reality that at midnight on 6th January of an election year an incumbent President leaves office and starts a new term sometime in the morning only after they have been sworn in. Notice that this also reminds us that there is a little window where there is a Presidential vacuum, an untenable situation that must be fixed.
Others have also raised the question of whether the President can serve for more than 8 years, considering that he served for a few months when President Mills died. Under this argument, 2 terms is 8 years, therefore no President can serve for more than 8 years. President Mahama having served for 4 years from 2013-2017 and 5 months in 2012 will serve more than 8 years if allowed to run in 2020.
This question is specifically addressed by Article 60(7) which provides that “Where the unexpired term served by the Vice-President … exceeds half the term of a President, the Vice-President is subsequently only eligible to serve one full term as President.”
In other words, for the purposes of defining a term, one must serve for at least 2 years. Thus, serving for less than 2 years is not counted as a term or even part of a term. So a President can serve for more than 8 years but not more than 10 years.
Taken together, I believe the constitutional grounds for disqualifying the ex President is weak, if not non-existent.