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11.11.2003 General News

Supreme Court hears "Azar's" case today

By Chronicle
Supreme Court hears
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... As ordinary citizen challenges legality of swearing-in of House Speaker as acting President A US-based Ghanaian Professor has filed a writ at the Supreme Court ( (Kwaku Azar Vrs Attoney General) against the Government challenging the legality of swearing-in the Speaker of Parliament, Mr. Peter Ala Adjetey as acting president, in the absence of both the president and the vice-president from the country, last year. Prof. Stephen Kwaku Asare (aka Azar on SIL) of the University of Florida, indicated that the government had committed a constitutional blunder as a result of swearing-in the speaker as president when both President J.A. Kufuor and Vice-President Aliu Mahama were on official duties abroad, saying it was premature for the speaker to be sworn-in as such. The purported swearing-in of the speaker, the professor noted, “Is a flagrant and contemptuous violation of the constitution, occasioned by a mis-appreciation and misapprehension of the law” as the temporary official travels abroad of both the president and the vice-president, in law, did not create a void to be filled. Prof. Asare is therefore seeking the court to grant that, given the true interpretation of Article 60(11) of the 1992 Constitution, it was inconsistent and unconstitutional for the speaker of parliament to be sworn-in as president of Ghana as executed on February 25, last year.
Additionally, the professor is requesting an order of perpetual injunction to restrain the speaker of parliament and any other succeeding person to the office of parliament from carrying out the function of the president of the Republic, except in the event of the incapacitation, resignation or death of both the president and the vice-president and any other directives the court may deem fit. According to Prof. Asare, where the speaker of parliament was sworn-in as president for the “mere” fact that both the president and the vice-president were on official duties abroad, would create a situation of where the country would have multiple presidents, each exercising executive powers. This, he indicated, was a recipe for disaster as executive powers would be vested in the hands of many persons in the like of the speaker of parliament, the chief justice, the deputy speakers of parliament or the most senior justice of the supreme court after the chief justice as the case may be, to be sworn-in as president pending the return of the elected president into the country. “It is submitted that an interpretation of the constitution that allows or lends credence to a regime of multiple presidents should be avoided, otherwise untold chaos, confusion and danger could be unleashed onto Ghana’s constitutional, political and legal order”, Prof. Asare suggested. The lecturer at the University of Florida argued that the president remained the president of Ghana, wherever he was, within or outside the country, unless his term of office expired, in the event of death, resignation or removed in accordance with the provision of article 66 and 69 of the 1992 constitution, adding that the high office of the president should not be easily filled as a result of temporary official travels of the president. Arguing further, Prof. Asare noted that when the president traveled abroad, it did not mean that he was unable to direct affairs of the country. This, he said was possible through modern technological devices, which made it easier for him to direct affairs of the country, wherever he was in any party of the world. He has therefore called for a distinction to be drawn between the “mere absence” of the president and the vice-president from the country and a “disabling absence” of the two, saying it was the case of only the later as espoused in article 60(11) and (13) of the constitution that would cause the speaker of parliament to succeed and assume the office of president. Prof Asare contended that in the event where the president was needed to perform any of his duties in person, when both he and his vice were abroad at that material time, then those functions might not be ceded to anyone else, but await the return of anyone of them. However, when the issue was pressing and needed the special attention of the president, Prof. Asare argued then either one or both of them were required immediately to return to the country to undertake that issue.

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