General News of Saturday, 29 July 2017
The Africa Center for International Law and Accountability (ACILA) is calling for restraint and adherence to the rule of law following calls by some civil society groups for the Commissioners of the Electoral Commission (EC) to step aside until the crisis at the EC is resolved.
In a statement, ACILA, a research and education think tank, says due process provided by Article 146 of the 1992 Constitution requires until the Chief Justice establishes a prima facie case against the Chairman of the Electoral Commission and the two deputies whom petitions for impeachment have been filed against, and advice by the Judicial Council for the president to suspend them, pending the recommendations of a five-member Committee, the Commissioners are to remain at post.
“The process is as important as the result and we urge restraint and adherence to due process and the rule of law as provided by the 1992 Constitution to foster democratic governance”, ACILA has noted.
According to the statement, Article 44 (2) and 44 (3) of the 1992 Constitution made the position of the chairperson of the EC and the two deputies analogous to a Justice of the Court of Appeal and a Justice of the High Court respectively. It added the removal of any of the three commissioners must be done in accordance with due process.
On the appointment of interim commissioners, the statement said that the Constitution does not provide for the appointment of an interim chairman or interim deputy commissioners even in the event of death or absence of any of the commissioners:
Article 44(6)” If a member [a Chairman or Deputy Commissioner] is absent or dies, the Commission shall continue its work until the President, acting on the advice of the Council of State, appoints a qualified person to fill the vacancy.”
The statement, signed by Executive Director of ACILA, William Nyarko comes in the wake of calls by civil society organizations of the EC Commissioners to step aside for an independent commission of enquiry into the matters at the EC.
It follows a 27-point petition sent to President Akufo-Addo for impeachment of the EC Chair under Article 146 on grounds of alleged misconduct and incompetence, allegations Mrs. Charlotte Osei, EC Chair has denied.
As required by Article 146, the President referred the petition to the Chief Justice on Wednesday for the Chief Justice to make a determination whether the petitioners established a prima facie case against the EC Chair.
Although no petition for impeachment had been filed against the two deputy commissioners at the time the calls were made, the presidency released a statement Friday evening, announcing a concerned citizen, Mr. Emmanuel Korsi Senyo, had filed two petitions, both dated July 25, 2017, against Georgina Opoku Amankwa and Mr. Amadu Sulley.
President Akufo-Addo, pursuant to the terms of Article 146(3), has, thus, referred both petitions to the Chief Justice for resolution, in accordance with the provisions of Article 146(3),” the statement signed by Director of Communication, Eugene Arhin said.