The appointment of an Electoral Commissioner has vexed the counsel for the plaintiff challenging the President’s powers to do so as the Supreme Court prepares to hear the constitutional matter.
According to the lawyer, Alexander Afenyo-Markins, “a big trap has been set for the Judiciary” whose eventual ruling will either challenge the president’s authority or confirms his powers.
Lawyer Afenyo-Markins was reacting to news that President John Mahama has appointed Charlotte Osei as the next Electoral Commissioner following the retirement of Dr. Kwadwo Afari Gyan who leaves over 20 years at the helm of Ghana’s electoral system.
The lawyer had in May filed the suit at the Supreme Court on the instructions of his client, a broadcast journalist Richard Sky of Citi FM.
His client argues that it is the Council of State has the sole authority to initiate the appointment process and suggest a binding list of candidates to the president.
Richard Dela Sky
The journalist wants the Supreme Court to “determine true and proper meaning of constitutional provisions” in Article 70(2) and Article 91(3)of the 1992 Constitution that relate to the process of appointing an Electoral Commissioner.
The next hearing is on 4 July.
But in a move that has come as a surprise to the plaintiff, the President has effected an appointment that makes Charlotte Osei the first female Electoral Commissioner since independence.
The move by the president has sparked debate over whether or not the decision by President John Mahama ignores the viability of a legal process underway in the Supreme Court.
Although Alexander Afenyo-Markins believes the action by the president “would not change the outcome of the matter” he is nonetheless “disappointed” that the president seems to be in a rush.
He wonders why the President cannot “restrain” himself and “await a final determination” by the courts.
Deputy Minority Leader Dominic Nitiwul supported the position taken by the plaintiff. He would have wished that the president could have waited.
“He knows that there is a case, he knows the court has set a date, he knows that the Attorney-General is in court… what if the court disagrees with what the president has done?”
Providing further perspective, Dean of the GIMPA Law School Kofi Abotsi argues that the action of the president will not prejudice the court.
This is because, the Supreme Court will take a decision based on “purely” constitutional matters.
Lawyer Abotsi explained that anybody is entitled to make his own interpretation of the constitution including the president.
But once the Supreme Court decides for example in quashing the decision by the president, it would be deemed that the President never appointed Charlotte Osei, he stated.