Former presidents Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor have corroborated propositions for the revisions in the function and composition of the Council of State.
The two former leaders say the deliberations of the Council must be public. This view, Mr Rawlings observed, is “for once” the first time he agrees with Mr Kufuor on an issue. The two were main speakers at a forum dubbed ‘Accra Dialogues’ organized by the Institute of Law and Public Affairs in partnership with Media General.
The forum themed ‘The Role of the Council of State: A Critical Assay’ was held at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA) on Wednesday. The Council has been a visible institution since the return to multi-party democracy in 1992 with Chapter 9 of the 1992 Constitution dedicated to its composition and functions.
Mr Rawlings, who became the first president under the constitution, explained that the Council was catered for in the Constitution on the lines of the African traditional system of governance. According to him, any chief had a council of elders from whom advice is sought on issues boggling the chief.
Mr Rawlings stressed that the Council “is an important constitutional body and should be retained”. “There are many ways to improve the composition, functions and operations of the Council,” he pointed out, stating, nonetheless, that “I do not think they should be given additional powers”. He stressed: “A well-chosen Council of State is an asset to a government”.
Second House Speaking earlier to his predecessor, former President Kufuor said the Council should not be composed on the lines of democracy but that members should be selected based on their standing in society and experiences. For him, professional bodies like the Chamber of Commerce as well as religious bodies should be made to have representatives on the Council.
Mr Kufuor, who succeeded Mr Rawlings as President of Ghana in 2001, said the Council members should be crammed into a second chamber to Parliament for deliberations on national issues. He suggested that their functions should, therefore, be open and transparent, a point agreed to by Mr Rawlings.
The Council of State as captured in the 1992 Constitution is to “counsel the President in the performance of his functions”. While some members are appointed by the president solely and in consultation with Parliament,, 10 others are elected to represent the regions of Ghana.
The appointment of a member may terminated by the president on grounds of “stated misbehavior” with prior approval from Parliament. The Council has every right to consider issues to do with the president, any minister of state or any authority though its recommendations will be implemented only at the discretion of the entities involved.
The current 25-member Council, consummate for the first time in a decade, has Nana Otuo Siriboe II as its Chairman.