Parliament to seek interpretation on Speaker’s Oath of Allegiance

Members of Parliament on both side of the political divide have raised serious concerns over the repeated swearing of Speaker with the Oath of Allegiance to the state and therefore seek its true and proper interpretation from the Supreme Court of Ghana.

According to the MPs, once the Speaker took the oath the first day in office, that oath remained binding on him per its letter and spirit and that repeatedly taking the oath at anytime the Speaker has to act as President was not proper.

Minority Leader and MP for Tamale South, Hon Haruna Iddrisu, raised the matter in parliament, when the House reconvened Saturday January 27, to swear in the Speaker, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, as acting President in the absence of the President and the Vice.

The house was recalled to swear in the Speaker of Parliament as acting President, following the absence of President Akufo-Addo, who left the country  for Africa Union (AU) Summit in Ethiopia, while Vice President Mahamadu Bawumia continue his sick leave far away United Kingdom.

A similar exercise took place on Sunday January 22, when the President left for Liberia to witness the coronation of new President  of Liberia, Senator George Oppong Weah.

On those two incidents, the Speaker took both the Oath of Allegiance and the Oath of Presidency, administered by the Chief Justice, Ms Sophia Akuffo, in fulfillment of Article 60(11) and (12) of the 1992 constitution and Order 42(3) of the Standing Order of Parliament.

But Hon Haruna Iddrisu argued that there was a problem in that aspect of the constitutional interpretation regarding the Speaker taking over and swearing the Oath of Allegiance since he had already taken the Oath of Allegiance as Speaker.

In his view, either the Supreme Court be asked to give proper and true interpretation or the constitution be reviewed to include the Speaker’s Oath to be taken when acting as President of the Republic.

While congratulating the Speaker for having had successful acting role over the nation, Mr.  Haruna Iddrisu expressed the view that that schedule of the constitution ought to be properly reviewed, pointing out, it is “unconstitutional” for thecontinuous swearing in of the Speaker of Parliament as the acting President whenever the President and the Vice President are out of the country.

“Mr. Speaker (First Deputy Speaker on Seat), while congratulating the  Speaker for the acting role as our President, I want to raise just two issues of the repetition of oath, just 10 or so days a ago, the Speaker took the Oath of Allegiance, the Speaker has taken the same oath again today.”

“Therefore Mr. Speaker I wish to say that following the decision of the Supreme Court, we are therefore bound to respect that decision. But I will also suggest that Parliament has the right to the interpretation of its own rules and therefore we should take steps to amending that schedule of oath. In fact if a member(s) could come by way of members’ private bill, we could make amendment,” the Minority Leader said.

The Minority Leader also expressed the concern that parliament is engaging in constitutional illegality, an unconstitutionality all these while by reading into article 60 (11) of the word ‘Absent’ which clearly is not part of that provision.

 The Majority Leader, Hon Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, agreed with the Minority Leader on the point about the Oath of Allegiance, adding that there was the need for the house to come together to reach a common solution to the matter.

 He said, it was improper for the Speaker to take the Oath of Allegiance after taking it in less than 10 days ago and that parliament has the right to amend its own laws, but expressed the need for a second chamber to be able to carry out such duties.

 In 2014, Edward Doe Adjaho, then Speaker of Parliament, declined to be sworn in to act as President when President John Mahama and his vice Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur travelled outside the country.

The Supreme Court, however, in a unanimous decision, in 2015 declared the action of Mr. Doe Adjaho as a violation of article 60 (11)-(12) of the 1992 Constitution when he declined to be sworn in.

 The Supreme Court also averred  that the “Speaker of Parliament shall always, before assuming the functions of the Office of President when the President and the Vice-President are unable to perform their functions, take and subscribe to the oath set out in relation to the Office of President.”

Source: Engsalige Nyaaba

The Republic News Online

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