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General News of Sunday, 21 January 2018


Mike Oquaye sworn in as acting President

The Speaker of Parliament, Prof. Aaron Mike Oquaye has been sworn in as the acting President of Ghana.

He was sworn into office by the Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo on the floor of Parliament at an emergency sitting of the House.

He accordingly took the oath of office.

Prof. Oquaye’s swearing-in was necessitated by the absence of the elected president, Nana Akufo-Addo and his Vice, Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia from the country.

Where is Akufo-Addo?

President Akufo-Addo left Ghana on Sunday for Monrovia, Liberia as a guest at the investiture of the President-elect of that country, George Weah.

… and Bawumia?

Dr. Bawumia left Ghana for the United Kingdom on Friday night on medical leave, according to the Presidency. This was after a statement from the Presidency indicated that he had taken ill earlier in the day and was undergoing medical checks.

It said upon the advice of his doctors, he was asked to travel to the UK for further checks.

What does the constitution say?

According to Article 60 (11) and (12) of the 1992 Constitution, “(11) Where the President and the Vice-President are both unable to perform the functions of the President, the Speaker of Parliament shall perform those functions until the President or the Vice-President is able to perform those functions or a new President assumes office, as the case may be.” “(12) The Speaker shall, before commencing to perform the functions of the President under clause (11) of this article, take and subscribe the oath set out in relation to the office of President.”

Meanwhile, some political scientists are challenging the interpretation of the constitution. They argue that since the elected President, Nana Akufo-Addo is still acting in his capacity as President while in Liberia, it is unnecessary to swear in Prof. Oquaye as acting President.

It will be recalled that when President Akufo-Addo took office in January 2017, he swore into office one of his appointees, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey as the Foreign Affairs Minister while in Ethiopia.

When the swearing-in of a Speaker was breached

The law was breached by a former Speaker of Parliament, Doe Adjaho in 2014, when he refused take the oath of office as acting President at a point. Both President Mahama and his Vice Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, had traveled outside the country at the time.

This compelled the Managing Director of Citi FM, Samuel Atta-Mensah, and a United States-based Ghanaian lawyer, Prof. Kwaku Asare, to file a suit at the Supreme Court, to among other things, seek an interpretation of Article 60 (12) of the 1992 Constitution, which requires that the Speaker takes the oath of office each time he is to act as President.

The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, declared that the Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Edward Doe Adjaho, violated Article 60 (11)-(12) of the 1992 Constitution when he declined to be sworn in to act as President when President John Dramani Mahama and Vice-President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur travelled outside the country in November 2014.

The nine-member panel, presided over by Mrs Justice Sophia Akuffo, also averred that the “Speaker of Parliament shall always, before assuming the functions of the Office of President when the President and the Vice-President are unable to perform their functions, take and subscribe to the oath set out in relation to the Office of President”.

“The Speaker is obliged to swear the oath each time he assumes the Office of the President. There is no ambiguity in articles 60 (11) and 60 (12),” Mr Justice Sulley Gbadegbe, who read the court’s decision, said.