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Legal opinions split over Article 66 (2) as Mahama pursues 2nd term presidential bid

botchway December 14, 2018

 

It is difficult to comprehend how two lawyers who sat in the same class in Law School, and were taught by the same lecturers, will differ in opinion and interpretation of the same law that is couched in simple language for simple understanding.

The raging debate about the eligibility of former president John Dramani Mahama to contest another four-year term in office has seen two legal luminaries, Dr Eric Oduro Osae and Prof Kwaku Azar, having divided opinions over the interpretation of Article 66, clause (2) of the 1992 Constitution.

Article 66 (2) of the 1992 Constitution says: (2) A person shall not be elected to hold office as President of Ghana for more than two terms.

To the understanding of the ordinary Ghanaian, this means a person can occupy the highest seat in Ghana for a maximum of two terms. As a result, former presidents Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor can no longer be presidents of Ghana.

On the other hand, John Dramani Mahama, who has already done one term in office, is eligible to do one more term.

However, Dr Eric Oduro Osae, Dean of Studies and Research at the Institute of Local Government Studies, and a Governance Analyst, has said that former president Mahama is eligible to serve two four-year terms, contrary to popular understanding that the former president has only one term to do.

The Governance Analyst explained that Mahama’s exit from office in 2016 nullifies his first term.

Dr Eric Oduro Osae further muddies the waters for the uninitiated in law, by stating that even former presidents Jerry John Rawlings and John Agyekum Kufuor are eligible to stand for the office of president again, since eight-years had elapsed since they served their respective two-year terms.

On the other hand, Prof Kwaku Azar, a U.S. based Ghanaian Accounting Professor, in a social media post responding to Dr Eric Oduro Osae’s legal effusion, stated: “I learn something new every day. Today, I learnt from Dr. Oduro Osae, who is the Dean of Studies and Research at the Institute of Local Government Studies (ILGS), that a break in the two terms renders the earlier term obsolete, giving former presidents the opportunity to restart the two terms all over. While learning new things is clearly useful, let us keep in mind that not every new thing that we learn is true. Da Yie!”

Obviously, from the above post, Professor Azar seems to differ from Dr. Eric Oduro Osae’s elucidation of Article 66 (2) that former presidents who have served two terms already can put themselves up again to be elected.

Whilst the legal luminaries confront the issue of Article 66 (2), which is in no doubt that former President Mahama deserves at least one more term, The Chronicle disagrees with his wish to enter the political fray.

Despite the constitutional correctness of Mahama’s second term presidential bid, The Chronicle vehemently opposes his second coming. Former presidents should be seen as national assets and beyond partisanship. Former presidents should be cast in an advisory role and seen as statesmen, upon whom the whole nation falls in times of crises for succour.

It is in this view that we see the entry of former president Mahama into the political fray as exposing him to the hazards of partisan politics. As a presidential candidate, he lends himself to the vicissitude of political mudslinging, which subtracts from his high pedestal statesmanship function.

This is advice to the former president, but the call is solely his to make.

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