Speaker Acts as President again; As Controversy on Oath Wages
Parliament of Ghana was once again thrown into a wagon of controversy and debate as the House was divided on the Constitutionality or otherwise of the acting capacity of the Speaker as the President whenever the substantive President is away on extra-territorial duties for the nation, and the amendment of the Presidential Oath by successive Chief Justices in administering it to the Speaker in his/her assumption of the Acting President role.
The Minority Leader of the House and Member of Parliament for Tamale South, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, on Saturday raised two (2) issues in relation to the above, being whether the Speaker must repeat the Oath of Allegiance anytime he is sworn in as an Acting President, and whether the absence of the President in the country satisfies the portion of Article 60(11) and (12) of the Constitution which states that the Speaker of Parliament assumes the fort as President anytime both the President and his Vice are unable to act as President.
According to him, section three (3) of the Oath Act, 1972 is against repetition of Oaths and just within ten (10) to fifteen (15) days, the Speaker would have to swear the same Oath again, which he sees at best as unnecessary.
He however admitted that the House is bound by the ruling of the Supreme Court in the Samuel Atta V Attorney General to administer the Oaths of Presidency and allegiance, especially when the ruling has not been challenged, but to him, the House should look into the matter.
He revealed that the Chief Justice brilliantly amended the Oath to read “in accordance with Article 60(11) and (12).
According to him, the powers to make and legislate laws rest in Parliament as per Article 93 of the Constitution.
In sharp rebuttal, the Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu said a careful reading of Article 60(8) reveals a congent between ‘absence from Ghana’ and ‘inability to perform function’.
He revealed that, Article 60(8) of the Constitution reads “whenever a President is absent from Ghana, or for any other reason he is unable to perform his functions”; and he sees ‘absence from Ghana’ being construed under ‘any other reason’.
He however agreed with Minority Leader on the relevance of swearing the Oath of Allegiance anytime the Speaker is sworn in as an acting President, and called on the House to amend same pursuant to Article 218 of the Constitution.
Story: Frederick E. Aggrey