A lecturer at the political science department of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Prof. Amoako Baah wants the 1992 Constitution discarded, simply because it was “poorly written”.
He told Joy News on Thursday that some provisions in the Constitution are inapplicable in real time, and in his words the constitution that has been the guiding principle for the country over decades is “flawed, we need to throw away and write a new one”.
He cited Article 60 of the Constitution as case in point: it stipulates that in the absence of the president and the Vice, the Speaker of Parliament shall take and subscribe the oath set out in relation to the president.
In accordance with Article 60 (12) the Speaker of Parliament Edward Doe Adjaho was Thursday sworn in as the president of Ghana: President Mahama and vice president Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur are attending official duties out of the country.
But Prof. Baah argued that the swearing in of the Speaker was needless, explaining it presupposes that the nation has two presidents. He clarified that when the president is out of the country, he will be performing a duty on behalf of Ghana as the president, but in the same vein the Speaker would also be expected to perform the functions of the president in the country.
He therefore posed a question as to who will call the shots in case of a crisis under this situation: would the nation obey the elected president who is outside or the president in Ghana?
“That is the problem. We are not reading the Constitution properly, it is poorly written but we who are interpreting it is making it worse.”
He argued, just because the president is absent from Ghana does not mean he is unable to perform his function as the president of Ghana.
But a senior lecturer at the University of Professional Studies and lawyer, Godwin Adawine said he agrees with Prof. Baah to some extent that we cannot have two presidents at the same time.
He however brought to the fore the Letter and Spirit components of the Constitution. One will “run into difficulties” if the letter alone is considered, and it would obviously not” make sense”, he pointed out.
To make any sense out of the constitution, one must also take the spirit into consideration, he submitted.
“The spirit of the law says at any particular point in time, there should be a person in Ghana and performing the functions and exercising the powers of the president in Ghana. Framers of the Constitution did not foresee the tactical difficulties we are witnessing now in the implementation of that provision.”
He suggested that a “caretaker” president would have been more appropriate. Nevertheless, the inability stated in Article 60 (8) should be looked in a broader sense.
But as it stays now, the Speaker of Parliament, he stressed, “Can perform the basic functions, he is as the president as the elected president because that is what he has been sworn in to be. Legally speaking he can take whatever action, he can exercise whatever power, and perform whatever function the elected president would have exercise or perform like reshuffle.”
Meanwhile, the Member of Parliament for Offinso South in the Ashanti region Ben Abdallah has told Joy News the Speaker of Parliament, having been sworn in, can exercise the powers of the elected president.
But he advised such a person should take minor decisions and refrain from taking drastic decisions like reshuffling the ministers.