Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan
A journalist with Citi FM, an Accra-based private radio station, has sued the government over the appointment of Electoral Commission (EC) chairman.
The current Chairman, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, is due for retirement next month and the mode of appointment of his successor is generating heated political debate.
Citing the Attorney General as the respondent, the journalist, Richard Sky, filed a writ at the Supreme Court asking for a clear interpretation of the provisions of the 1992 Constitution on the appointment of an EC chairman.
The applicant, who is represented by his solicitors, Dehyena Chambers, with Alexander Afenyo-Markin as the lead counsel, wants the court to determine the way and manner the president should do the selection of the next EC boss.
Richard Sky wants a declaration that ‘upon true and proper interpretation of Article 70(2) of the 1992 Constitution, the provisions of Article 91(3) of the 1992 Constitution have no bearing and inapplicable to the special role of the Council of State in the appointment of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, his Deputies and other Commissioners.’
The applicant also wants a declaration that ‘upon true and proper interpretation of Article 70(2) of the 1992 Constitution together with Article 91 (4) of the 1992 Constitution, it is the Council of State that has the constitutional mandate to initiate the process of appointment of the Chairman, the Deputies and other Commissioners of the Electoral Commission; and such advice on suitable candidate(s) to be appointed constitutionally is binding on the President.’
He is asking for an order ‘directing the exact procedures to be followed by the Council of State either suo motto or by prompting by the President in such appointments in the light of Article 70(2) of the 1992 Constitution,’ as well as ‘any other order or orders as this Honourable Court may seem meet.
According to the applicant, Article 70 (2) of the 1992 Constitution says, ‘The President shall, acting on the advice of the Council of State, appoint the Chairman, Deputy Chairman, and other members of the Electoral Commission,’ while Article 91(3) of the same Constitution says, ‘The Council of State may, upon request or on its own initiative, consider and make recommendations on any matter being considered or dealt with by the President, a Minister of State, Parliament or any other authority established by this Constitution except that the President, Minister of State, Parliament or other authority shall not be required to act in accordance with any recommendation made by the Council of State under this clause.’
The writ is praying the apex court ‘to give judicial definition of the process for appointing a replacement for incumbent EC Chief, Dr Kwadwo Afari-Gyan,’ who is set to retire on June 18, 2015.
‘Where there are divergent views on how the Chairman, a Deputy Chairman or a Commissioner is to be appointed, one needs not wait for one to be appointed unconstitutionally before running to the Supreme Court for an interpretation and a declaration to that effect.’
The applicant said that any directive given by the court on the mode of appointment of the EC chairman shall be binding on all stakeholders and become a guiding precedent, saying, ‘it would also put to rest the unending political debate on how the successor of Dr Afari-Gyan is to be appointed.
By William Yaw Owusu
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