The Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Edward Kobina Doe-Adjaho, was on Thursday September 19 sworn to act as President of Ghana in the absence of His Excellency John Dramani Mahama and his Vice, Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur according to Article 60 (11) and (12)of the Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.
I recollect the late Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Peter Ala Adjetey was also in February 2002 sworn in as President in the absence of former President Kufour and vice, the late Alhaji Aliu Mahama, may his soul rest in peace.
Hon. Joyce Bamford Addo was also sworn on Friday October 1, 2010 to act for a few hours as President of the Republic of Ghana in the absence of President J. E. A. Mills of Blessed memory and his vice.
At first thought, this action made a lot of sense to me but upon further analysis and listening to various commentaries on this issue, I have come to the conclusion that the act of swearing in the Speaker of Parliament anytime the President and his vice were outside the country to attend to other assignments is a REAL COMEDY OF ERROR!
Art 60 (11) upon which this act is based states that “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.”
My understanding of the above clause is that the Speaker of Parliament is supposed to perform the functions of the President if he and his vice are both sick, incapacitated indisposed for whatever reason or even dead and not when they are out of the country to perform other presidential duties.
In this case, the Vice-President I learnt has travelled out of the country on holidays whereas the President went to Mali for about 8 hours to attend to the swearing in of their newly elected President of that country.
The question: is His Excellency John Dramani Mahama’s presence and functions in Mali not in his capacity as the President of Ghana? Is he not performing his duties as the President of Ghana despite the fact that he is out of the country?
I believe Art 60 (11) of the 1992 constitution is greatly misinterpreted. There is absolutely no reason for the Speaker of Parliament or any other person for that matter to be sworn in to act in the stead of the President when he and his vice simply travel out of the country to perform their presidential duties.
I have heard many people argue that the absence of the President and his vice from the country creates a vacuum which if not occupied could create room for people to misconduct themselves.
I however disagree totally with this notion. I believe Ministers of State are representatives of the President and can perform various duties in his absence. The Minister for Foreign Affairs for instance, can receive foreign visitors in the absence of the President and his vice.
Since the Speaker is the next in command after the two first Gentlemen, he can act in their absence if the need arises without necessarily being made to take the Presidential Oath! Can we say Hon. Doe Adjaho is therefore a former President of Ghana?
At the time our President is performing his duties and probably signing some documents in his capacity as the President of Ghana, there is another President performing his duties and also probably signing some documents in his capacity as such back home. How can a country have two Presidents performing duties in the same capacity at the same time? Isn’t that a very big comedy?