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05.12.2005 General News

I expect NCCE to be alive to its Constitutional obligations - JAK

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Accra, Dec. 5, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Monday urged the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE) to be alive to its constitutional obligation to create and sustain within the society the awareness of the principles and objectives of the 1992 Constitution. "Chapter 19 of the Constitution makes provision for the establishment by an Act of Parliament of a National Commission for Civic Education," with a constitutional function to educate and encourage the public to defend this Constitution at all times against all forms of abuse and violation.

This was contained in a speech read on his behalf at the opening of the eighth National Governance Workshop in Accra. President Kufuor asked: "Are Ghanaians aware that the 1992 Constitution is the supreme law of Ghana and that any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision of the Constitution shall to the extent of the inconsistency be void?" He charged the NCCE to be alive to its obligations.

The Workshop on the theme: "We the people of Ghana: Understanding and Living the Constitution at the dawn of 50," was organised by the National Governance Programme (NGP) to serve as a platform for independent governance institutions, civil society groups, the private sector operators and government to deliberate on the impact of the Constitution on democratic behaviours and practices. It also seeks to forge consensus on the best way forward for constitutional development, collate and present comments and recommendations on the Constitution into the formal institutions for shaping national direction.

President Kufuor, whose speech was read for him by Mr J. Ayikoi Otoo, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, noted that the demystification of the Constitution also imbued in the citizens the right and duty to defend and resist any person or group of persons seeking to commit any form of abuse or violation inconsistent with the spirit and letter of the Constitution.

He said: "All citizens of Ghana shall have the right and duty at all times to do all in their power to restore this Constitution after it has been suspended, overthrown, or abrogated as referred to in Article 3 (4)."

Quoting Article 3 (5) of the Constitution, President Kufuor said any person or group of persons who suppressed or resisted the suspension; overthrow or abrogation of the Constitution committed no offence.

He, therefore, reminded governance institutions, civil society groups, media practitioners and all Ghanaians of the civic and legal responsibility to defend and protect the Constitution at all times. On the call for Constitutional Amendment, President Kufuor cited the American Constitution, which had been in force for more than 200 years yet had had few amendments because the system had permitted the Constitution to grow and to develop its own conventions.

He, therefore, called for the adherence to constitutional provisions set out in Chapter 25. It is important to emphasise that the Entrenched Provisions could only be amended through the organisation of a national referendum.

President Kufuor said proponents for amendment of constitutional provisions should find out whether the provisions were entrenched or not, "if entrenched to find out how to get the financial resources to undertake the referendum... because in any case even to amend a provision which is not entrenched at least two-thirds of all members of Parliament must approve of it."

He identified some Constitutional Amendments since 1993 and asked: "Whether the amendments were absolutely desired at the time they took place or were targeted at certain political figures?" Mrs Leonora Kyerematen, Programme Co-ordinator National Governance Programme, reiterated the call for re-introduction of civic education into the educational curriculum.

Mr Daouda Toure, the United Nations Resident Coordinator, affirmed the support of the UN agencies towards consolidation of democracy and the strengthening of good governance in Ghana.

"We can also help by making available comparatives and experiences from other countries, which have gone through a similar process, and in providing technical expertise to support Ghana's democratic effort. "We will continue to partner with the Government and people of Ghana as you continue to search for ways to make your country one of the shining symbols of African renaissance," he said.

Representatives of independent governance institutions, civil society organisations, media practitioners, politicians, academia, lawyers, constitutional experts and a cross section of the public attended the workshop, which ends on December 6.

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