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General News of Friday, 31 July 2020

Source: Ghanaian Times

1992 Constitution was not written to protect Rawlings – Kwamena Ahwoi


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Professor Kwamena Ahwoi, a leading member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has maintained that criticisms that the 1992 Constitution was written to protect the interests of former President Jerry John Rawlings are largely erroneous.

According to him, “only an aspect of the constitution provides such protections, not only do they provide immunity to the former President but also those that worked with him during the era of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC)”.

Prof. Ahwoi, who was a Minister of Local Government and Rural Development in the PNDC regime, explained that the indemnity clause was necessary to ensure that power was transitioned peacefully from military regime to civilian regime.

“When soldiers stage coup d’état, they know they have committed the crime of treason for which punishment is death, if you want those people to hand over smoothly, you’d have to give them guarantees they’ll not be molested, vilified, not even tried and maybe sentenced to death."

“If they should hand over, because they will not accept to commit suicide, which is what they’d be doing if they simply say okay we’re handing over so anytime a coup has taken place in any country, negotiations take place for guarantees of indemnity and immunity provided coup makers, that is the only way they will feel comfortable enough to agree to hand over.”

“What most critics of indemnity clause do not understand is, not only does indemnity clause serve as surety to former President Rawlings; it protects all those who worked with him during those regimes, including former President Agyekum Kufuor who was once a PNDC Secretary for Local Government."

“Per the constitution, all those who had held public office during the military regime were guilty of treason, thus the need to insert indemnity clause in the constitution, but when they criticise it [ indemnity clause], their target is former President Rawlings; he is only one, however, treason charge extends to those of us who also worked with him."

“If the indemnity clauses are removed, not only former President Rawlings will be tried, I will be tried, former President Kufuor will be tried because he was appointed PNDC secretary for local government before I was appointed PNDC secretary, if we go in line to be tried, he will come before me,” Prof Ahwoi explained."

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