General News of Saturday, 21 September 2013
A lecturer at the political science department of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Prof. Amoako Baah wants the 1992 Constitution discarded, because it was "poorly written".
He told Joy News on Thursday that some provisions in the Constitution are not practicable and in his words the constitution is "flawed, we need to throw it away and write a new one".
He cited Article 60 (8) of the Constitution which stipulates that in the absence of the president and the vice, the Speaker of Parliament shall take the oath and act as president.
In accordance with Article 60 (12) the Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho, was Thursday sworn in as the president of Ghana because President Mahama and Vice President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur are attending official duties outside the country.
But Prof. Baah argued that the swearing in of the Speaker was needless, explaining it suggested that the nation for the time being had two presidents.
He maintained that when the president is out of the country, he will be performing a duty on behalf of Ghana in his capacity as 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 there is an emergency in the country; would the nation obey the elected president who is outside at the time or the acting president in Ghana?
"That is the problem. We are not reading the Constitution properly, it is poorly written, but we who are interpreting it are 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.
A senior lecturer at the University of Professional Studies and lawyer, Godwin Adawine, said he agreed with Prof. Baah to some extent that there cannot be two presidents at the same time.
He, however, drew attention to what he called the Letter and Spirit 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.
But as things are 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 exercised or performed, like a ministerial 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 government appointees.