President Adjaho has ‘limited powers’ – law lecturer

Mr Adjaho [left] and lawyer OppongA law lecturer, Yaw Oppong, says although the Speaker of Parliament has assumed the country’s presidency, he cannot perform certain critical functions without consulting President John Dramani Mahama.
He observed that the 1992 Constitution is silent on the decisions that could be taken by the Speaker of Parliament when he is sworn-in as the President in the absence of an elected President and his Vice.

“There is a constitutional shortfall in the area where he [Doe Adjaho] can do reshuffle but as a rational human being, if something has happened and it needs dismissal, he must consult the President and take the decision,” Mr Oppong argued on Onua 95.1FM Thursday.

He said notwithstanding the fact that both President John Mahama and Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur are outside the jurisdiction, they remain the President and Vice respectively as the 1992 constitution  empowers them to perform their legitimate duties outside the country.

According to him, Mr Doe Adjaho cannot be said to be an acting President in view of the absence of President Mahama and his Vice, arguing “if we say he is acting, it means there is no President in Ghana but in this case, we have them but they have just travelled on official assignments”.

Commenting on the swearing in of Mr Adjaho as President on Wednesday, Mr Oppong added: “while they are not here, they are performing their constitutional duties”.

He advised against the President and his Vice travelling out of the country at the same time because some of the businesses they travel outside to do could be done by our ambassadors in those countries

“We should look at the situation where the two will not be absent in the country because some of the issues can be handled by our ambassadors and high commissioners so the President and the Vice should not travel together at the same time,” he advised.

Mr Adjaho was sworn-in as President on Wednesday by Chief Justice Georgina T. Wood at the Parliament House in Accra amidst cheers from the minority Members of Parliament who shouted “Presido” repeatedly. He took the Presidential oath.

The minority MPs urged Mr Adjaho, who can best be described as a temporary or caretaker President, to use the opportunity to announce a ministerial reshuffle of the Mahama-led government, TV3’s Parliamentary correspondent Evelyn Tengmaa reported.

President Mahama left Accra Wednesday morning for Glasgow in the United Kingdom on official visit where he is scheduled to observe the First Minister’s question time and address a meeting of parliamentarians. He is expected to return on March 19.

His vice, Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur arrived in New Delhi, India on Monday for a two-day investment summit on Africa. It is not clear when he is likely to return as official communication did not state.

Although the 1992 Constitution prescribes that the Speaker be sworn into office to act as President any time the President and his Vice are out of the country, Mr. Adjaho on two occasions on November 5 and 7, 2015, declined to be sworn as the acting President when both the President and his Vice were out of the country on official duties.

He explained to the House that he had, in consultation with the Chief Justice, agreed that since he had taken the same oath on October 19, 2013 when the President and his vice were out of the country, there was no need for him to do so again.

But the Supreme Court in December last year ruled Mr Doe Adjaho breached Article 60 (11)-(12) of the 1992 Constitution by the said refusal that received mixed reaction from Parliamentarians and governance experts.


By Kweku Antwi-Otoo|Onua 95.1|

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