The Forum for Governance and Justice (FGJ) has been opposed to calls for an inquest into the death of President, J.E.A. Mills because such requests are not in consonance with our laws, especially the relevant parts of the Coroners Act, 1960 (Act 18).
While we respect the call by the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) on President John Dramani Mahama to order a Presidential inquest into the cause of death of our late President, we are certain this sort of action is not the answer. Rather, it will generate the type of political frenzy the late President himself worried about before his death.
It is our position that as a nation, we must collectively decide whether the health of our elected leaders and those seeking such leadership positions should be prime consideration for qualification or disqualification as proposed by the Executive Director of the Institute for Democratic and Economic Governance (IDEG), Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey. If we agree as he has proposed, that presidential aspirants must submit themselves to rigorous medical examination, then we must make it law.
Luckily, a legacy of the late President is the ongoing process towards amending the 1992 Constitution. Thus, it is the proposal of the FGJ that we include health as a condition for leadership candidates in the ultimate law of the land. The medical examination of those seeking high elected office should be conducted by a certified health facility of high repute and should include a test for banned substances because they contribute to health challenges.
Indeed, we agree with Dr. Emmanuel Akwetey that those individuals seeking to be President must as matters of requirement assess their state of health and see whether they could cope with the high demand of the office they are seeking. The FGJ also agrees with Dr. Opoku Adusei of the GMA when he states that the State takes care of the Presidents till they die, but the truth is that we have no law that mandates that the health of Presidents be made public. Again, we could make it law that each year the President undergoes a medical check-up and make the results public.
We now have a great opportunity to follow the American example if we so wish. President Barack Obama's annual health check is public and the report indicates his marginally high cholesterol level, though he received thumbs-up from his doctor overall. If we also think that the health of our elected leaders is no laughing matter, then we have the chance to include this in the Constitution as proposed by FGJ.
Dr. Clement A. Apaak
Convener, Forum for Governance and Justice - Ghana
020 011 7620