Ala Adjetey Calls For Referendum

By Samuel Nuamah
By Samuel Nuamah

8/31/2007 -

Former Speaker of Parliament Peter Ala Adjetey has called for a referendum to enable Ghanaians decide whether to change any part of the Constitution, including the entrenched provisions that are not subject to amendment.

He said 'while it may be desirable to entrench certain provisions in the 1992 Constitution, it is unhealthy and may be dangerous in a democracy to make some provisions in the Constitution not subject to amendment at all.'

Mr. Ala Adjetey was presenting a paper on the topic, 'In search of the Republic: Our values and the roots of our Constitution,' at an inaugural lecture organised by the Citizens Network for Democracy and Economic Development (CNDED) in Accra on Wednesday.

The Network, a new non-governmental organisation, will address issues of economics, governance and political philosophy, and how these three forces should be properly aligned to produce a just and equitable country operated on free-market principles and respect for the rights of the individual.

The two-hour lecture, which was nearly marred by sporadic power outages, was attended by academia, the media, representatives of some political parties and a cross-section of the public.

The former Speaker touched on the weaknesses of the 1960, 1969, and 1979 Constitutions, and stated that though the bulk of the 1992 Constitution was concerned with ensuring the rule of law, it was not practically calculated to ensure a free and liberal environment.

'The 1992 Constitution for instance was adopted in circumstances in which real freedom did not exist in Ghana,' he said, adding, 'the nation was reeling under a military dictatorship that had suppressed all attempts to overthrow it.'

On provisions in the Constitution which deal with the Presidency, Mr. Ala Adjetey said the provisions have the tendency to concentrate power in the hands of one man 'and that is dangerous for democracy and ought to be reviewed.'

He stated that for example, clause 11 of article 60, which mandates the Speaker of Parliament to act in the absence of the President and the Vice-President, have been taken for granted and needs to be clearly drafted.

He recalled that in February 2002, when both the President and his Vice were outside the country and the then Speaker (himself) was sworn-in by Justice E.K. Wiredu it generated controversy.

Mr. Ala Adjetey submitted that the country had not yet arrived at a true republican status, stressing that “the search for a republic must continue till we have a true republic.”

Mr. Kwadwo Afari, former press secretary of the New Patriotic Party, and Chief Executive of the Network, said “our concern and focus is bringing analysis to the level of the citizen to aid his or her transition to a higher level of empowerment.”

“At the heart of the matter, we know that the state of literacy in Ghana does not permit Ghanaians to follow political discourse and events that have a large impact on their well-being, given that most of the discourse is conducted in an official language that, for most of them, is a second language.”

“It is in this light that I decided that CNDED should be formed to create the right environment of citizen empowerment that question constantly, whether the Constitution and its agents in the government are enhancing, developing, enriching and allowing the common citizen to live a life of well-being and dignity,” he said.