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Opinions of Friday, 22 January 2010

Columnist: The Royal Enoch

Rawlings Vrs The Indemnity Clause

Our elected leaders, like all men and women, are not immune to making irresponsible decisions. Hence, the presence of the representative body of the people-also known as the parliament. The representative body of the people is employed by the people to prioritize both the needs, and wishes of the people. Under a normal circumstance, the representative body of the people cannot, and must not implement any socio-economic laws without the sole approval of the people. All because; power belongs to the people, and not to the people in power. Also, there is the people's constitution. The constitution embodies the totality of the powers of the government by the governed. Meaning, nothing gets inserted into the constitution without a parliamentarian seal of approval, after the people's yes or no vote for a proposed clause. Therefore, the absurd notion that a specific clause could be smuggled into the sacred constitution of the people without the people's knowledge, or sheer consent means that the specific clause in question never had a parliamentarian seal of approval in the first place.

Ghana returned in 1992 to civilian rule after eleven years of military dictatorship. The bankrupt state of Ghana's economy needed the world Bank, and the IMF to resuscitate itself. Rawlings was, therefore, asked to return the country to civilian rule in exchange for monetary assistance from the world Bank and the IMF. Also, in 1992, a new constitution was in the works to coincide with Ghana's move towards democracy. Of all the clauses, which made their way into this new constitution-one particular clause has remained controversial ever since its insertion. This clause is without a doubt the indemnity clause. The presence of the indemnity clause in the 1992 draft constitution caused many politicians to campaign heavily against it, when it was was finally introduced to the people. Also, these politicians advised the citizenry to cast a "NO" vote at the referendum.

Nonetheless, there were also other politicians, who were of the notion that any opposition against the draft constitution would extend the life span of the PNDC. These politicians encouraged the citizenry to cast a "Yes" vote in favor of the draft constitution.

Evidentially, these politicians, who were in favor of the 1992 draft constitution went on to form the NPP political party. What is also worth adding is that a clause cannot be amended once it's entrenched in a constitution. In other words, once a clause is written in black and white. Now, you may ask; what purpose does an indemnity clause serve anyway? Is it supposed to obstruct the lawful prosecution of the guilty, or is it supposed to protect the unlawful prosecution of the innocent? Well, the answer to this question is this; first and foremost, a democratically elected president of the people rules in conjunction with the representative body of the people.

Therefore, if an elected president of the people should be found guilty of a statutory offense, then it obviously means that the representative body of the people is guilty as well. Simply because; in any true democracy, a leader doesn't make a decision without the representative body of the people, which is the people themselves. Unlike a democratically elected president, a military dictator rules by decree, and not by the constitution. Which also means that since a military dictator does not rule by the law, he/she cannot be judged by the law for his/her actions-let alone be found guilty or innocent by the law or any other law for that matter. In short, the presence of the indemnity clause in the constitution isn't supposed to obstruct the lawful prosecution of the guilty. For the simple reason that the indemnity clause doesn't work against the law. Its sole purpose is to protect the unlawful prosecution of the innocent-Rawlings included.