Speaker of Parliament sworn in as President

BY: Sebastian Syme

Another swearing in of the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, as acting President, took place in Parliament last Saturday following the departure of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to attend the 30th African Union Heads of State summit.

From Ethiopia, the President will proceed to South Africa to attend the funeral of the late South African Jazz music icon, Hugh Masakela.

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The Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Sophia Akuffo, in conformity with the constitutional requirement, administered the oaths of office and allegiance to Prof. Oquaye.

MPs’ stance

Some Members of Parliament (MPs) have, however, expressed concern about the continuous swearing in of the Speaker whenever the President is out of the country.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Kunbungu, Mr Ras Mubarak, declared his intention to go to the Supreme Court to seek a review of the apex court’s previous orders in a case brought before it by two Ghanaian citizens.

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The Managing Director of Citi FM, Mr Samuel Atta-Mensah, and a United States-based Ghanaian lawyer, Prof. Kwaku Asare, in 2015, filed a suit at the court, to among other reliefs, seeking 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.

Also expressing concern on the issue was the MP for South Dayi, Mr Rockson-Nelson Etse Kwami Dafeamekpor.

Speaking with reporters last Saturday, he said the 1992 Constitution was silent on whether or not the acting President could hire and fire a government appointee.

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Breach of law

The law concerning the swearing-in was breached by the former Speaker of Parliament, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, in 2015, when he refused to take the oath of office as acting President at a point.

At that time both President John Mahama and his vice, Mr Kwesi Amissah-Arthur, had travelled outside the country.

That compelled Mr Atta-Mensah and Prof. Asare to file a suit at the Supreme Court, and the court, in a unanimous decision, declared that the Speaker of Parliament violated Article 60 (11)-(12) of the 1992 Constitution when he declined to be sworn in to act as President.

The nine-member panel, presided over by 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”.