Ghana’s Presidential Stool Vacant

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Mahama, Amissah Arthur & Doe Adzaho Out Of Ghana, But Chief Justice Not Acting

There was a major constitutional breach yesterday, as Ghana was without a sitting president, because both President John Dramani Mahama and his Vice Kwesi Bekoe Amissah Arthur, had both travelled abroad.

While, President Mahama was in Nigeria holding talks with his counterpart Goodluck Jonathan over the “deadly and destructive activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group”, Vice-President Amissah Arthur was in Houston- Texas in the United States of America (USA), attending this year’s Offshore Technology Conference (OTC 2014).

The Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Kobly Adzaho, who could have acted as President in their absence was also in far away Peoples Republic of Korea on official matters, The Herald gathered from its Parliamentary sources. He left Accra, last Monday and is expected to return sometime, next week.

Article 59 of the 1992 Constitution strictly insists that “the President shall not leave Ghana without prior notification in writing, signed by him and addressed to the Speaker of Parliament”.

With the Speaker of Parliament having left Accra, three clear days ahead of President Mahama’s visit to Nigeria, it was unclear, whether the provision on the “Absence From Ghana” has been respected.

Interestingly, Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood; the forth most powerful person in the land, could not act as she had not taken the “Oath of Allegiance” and the “Presidential Oath” before the 275 Members of Parliament (MPs) as set out in Chapter Eight of the 1992 Constitution under Article 57 Clause 3.

Parliament, in performing this would have to be summoned under a certificate of emergency, when the House is on recess or out of session.

In effect, Ghana yesterday had no “Head of State and Head of Government and Commander -in- Chief of the Ghana Armed Forces” as strictly demanded by Article 57 Clause 1 of the Constitution.

The framers of the Constitution had explained that because of Ghana’s history of coup d’états and military juntas, provisions was made for an acting president in the absence of the President and the Vice-President from the country.

First came an official statement from the Flagstaff House, yesterday that President Mahama will travel to Abuja for talks with President Jonathan

The statement said “President John Dramani Mahama will be holding discussions with Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja, today, Thursday, May 8, 2014”. It did not specify when President Mahama will return to Ghana.

It, however, disclosed that “the discussions will focus on the security situation in Nigeria, in view of the deadly and destructive activities of the Boko Haram terrorist group”.

The press statement stated “also ongoing in Abuja, Nigeria is the 2014 World Economic Forum for Africa”, but did not indicate whether President Mahama was going to attend that event.

It went on “the Abuja meeting will be taking place at a time the Nigerian government is exploring all avenues to rescue over 200 schoolgirls who have been abducted by the Boko Haram group”.

President Mahama, who is the Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, has, since 23 April, written on behalf of colleague heads of state of West Africa to the Nigerian President, expressing concern, solidarity and support of ECOWAS member-states to the Government and people of Nigeria as Africa’s most populous nation addresses its pressing security challenges.

Prior to President Mahama’s departure, a statement from an aide of Vice-President, James Agyenim-Boateng, said that the Veep had arrived in Houston Texas, for this year’s Offshore Technology Conference (OTC 2014) at Houston’s Reliant Center from May 5 to 8, yesterday.

The conference, is the offshore oil and gas Industry’s foremost event for the development of hydrocarbon resources in the areas of drilling, environmental protection, exploration, production development innovation and technology.

It is considered the world’s single largest gathering of offshore oil and gas industry players, the Vice-President, according to the statement will the address OTC on oil and gas opportunities in Ghana and called for investment in that area.

Vice-President Amissah Arthur was also expected to hold discussions with senior executives of a number of oil and gas companies at the conference.

The Vice-President will also hold discussions on a number of issues with the Mayor Annise D. Parker, the Mayor of Houston and also meet with Congresswoman Hon. Sheila Jackson Lee.

The Veep was expected to visit M.D Anderson Hospital (No. 1 Cancer Treatment Hospital in the world) and urge its management to establish a world-class medical facility for the Africa region in Accra to help promote medical hospital in Ghana.

He is also scheduled to meet with the Ghanaian community in Houston, Texas before returning back home.

Meanwhile another statement sent to the media from Houston, Texas by Mr. Agyenim-Boateng, a Presidential Staffer, on Tuesday spoke on the opportunities in Ghana’s oil and gas sector at the Offshore Technology Conference.

The Vice President, Mr. Amissah‐Arthur, said government would continue to pursue efforts that make Ghana an investor-friendly country and also ensure that policies in the oil and gas sector benefit Ghanaians.

Government, he said, would therefore focus on nurturing an ideal operating environment for the oil and gas industry, stressing that gas utilization and local content are high on the agenda of government.

The Conference is the offshore oil and gas industry’s foremost event for the development of hydrocarbon resources in the areas of drilling, environmental protection, exploration, production development, innovation and technology.

The Vice President said a new petroleum exploration and production bill aimed at bringing the country’s legislations on the oil and gas sector up to date is being drafted, the report said.

This, according to him, will provide further certainty, deepen transparency and generate more investment in the sector.

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