The Speaker of Parliament, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, yesterday declined to be sworn-in to act in the capacity of the President in the absence of both the President and his Vice.
Ghana's constitution prescribes that the Speaker be sworn into office to act as President any time he and his vice are out of the country.
President John Dramani Mahama was in Burkina Faso on a mission to resolve the political crisis in that country, while his vice, Mr Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, is on a four-day official visit to India.
As a result of their absence the Chief Justice, Mr Justice Georgina Woode, was in Parliament to swear-in the Speaker.
However, Mr Adjaho explained to the House that he had in consultation with the Chief Justice agreed that since he took the same oath on October 19, 2013 when the President and his vice were out of the country, there was no need for him to do so again.
But the action of the Speaker sharply divided legal brains over its legality.
While some lawyers said the Speaker had committed a ‘treasonable’ act, others said the act was in sync with the Fourth Republican Constitution.
This brought the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Bekwai (MP), Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, to the floor, who argued that by interpretation of the relevant clause, the Speaker should have sworn an oath in the House before assuming the high office of President.
Mr Osei-Owusu’s claim was quickly countered by the Youth and Sports Minister, Mr Mahama Ayariga, with the explanation that anytime the President was out of the country the Vice acted in his absence.
The Minority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu and NPP MP for Suame, quoted Article 59 Clauses eight and 68 which spell out the procedures for acting capacity in the event of the absence of the President to apprise the members.
There was another opinion that the Speaker should have resigned his position before assuming the acting President position.
For his part, the Minister of Defence, Dr Benjamin Kunbour and National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Nandom, explained that the house was dealing with two scenarios.
According to him, one scenario talks about incapacitation of the President to perform his duties and the other being absent from the country and supported his claim with Article 60 (12) of the constitution which indicates that the Speaker shall perform the functions of president during his absence.
Other members of the minority, who were of the contrary view included the NPP member for Sekondi, Paapa Owusu-Ankomah.
When he took his turn, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, congratulated the Speaker as the acting President and said there should be no vacuum in the running of the state machinery.
He called for support from both sides for the Speaker in his acting capacity as the President.
The Majority Leader and NDC MP for Nadowli/Kaleo, Mr Alban.S.K. Bagbin also referred to Article 60 (6) and (8) and explained that the Speaker could not relinquish his position as Speaker before acting as the President.
Meanwhile, the First Deputy Speaker, Mr Ebo Barton-Odro has given the Youth and Sports Minister, Mr Ayariga, two weeks to furnish the house with the total cost incurred on the Black Stars at the 2014 World Cup tournament in Brazil.
That followed a question by Mr Justice Joe Appiah, NPP MP for Ablekuma North, who wanted to know the total expenditure on the tournament.
In his response to the question, Mr Ayariga had pleaded with his colleagues to allow the Presidential Commission looking into the preparation and participation of the Black Stars to finalise and submit its report together with the details of all that transpired regarding the tournament to be made available to the House.
That did not go down well with the minority, who insisted that the House had the constitutional mandate to make such demand, thereby prompting the First Deputy Speaker, Mr Barton-Odro, to issue the order.
Source: Daily Graphic
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