A constitutional debate is raging furiously in Ghana as to whether or not the Speaker of Parliament must swear the presidential oath every time he is opportuned to act as president.
Such a privilege became Ghana Speaker Edward Doe Adjaho’s portion a second this Wednesday when both President John Dramani Mahama and his Vice Kwesi Amissah-Arthur were unavailable in Ghana.
President Mahama, the current Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) , was in Burkina Faso to prevail upon the military authorities to hand over power to civilians, following the ousting of President Blaise Campaore. Vice-President Amissah-Arthur, on the other hand, was in New Delhi, India on a four-day official visit.
The 1992 Constitution requires in such a situation the Speaker of Parliament must be sworn in to act as President until either one of them returned.
Article 60 (11) of the constitution states: “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.”
Clause 12 says, “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”
Though the Chief Justice, Madam Georgina Wood, went to Parliament to swear-in Mr Adjaho, he refused to be sworn-in, arguing that the oath he took on September 19, 2013, when he first acted as President, was still in effect.
And following a discussion with the Chief Justice, it was agreed that the oath was still in effect.
When the decision was announced to MPs, some of them questioned the rationale for Mr Adjaho’s decision.
The general public is now also debating the issue.
What do the lawyers say?