A private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu believes that the Chief Justice could be sworn in as president in the event that the 2020 general elections are not held due to the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus.
A number of persons including the Majority Leader, Osei Mensa Bonsu have expressed the fear of the country facing a constitutional crisis if the elections are not held this year and the tenure of the Executive and the Legislature ends on the midnight of January 6, 2021.
Expressing his legal opinion on the matter, Martin Kpebu subscribed to the Chief Justice being sworn in if the Electoral Commission fails to conduct the elections.
“In matters like this, you will have divergent opinions but the way I see it from article 57 which lists the order of precedent that from the President to the Vice President to the Speaker of Parliament and then to the Chief Justice, I subscribe to the view that, if the elections don’t come on after midnight January 6, 2021, we should swear in the Chief Justice so that he will then recall Parliament under article 113(3) so that Parliament can come and continue its work and then we have the elections,” he argued.
In responding to other opinions on his suggestion flouting separation of powers as the judiciary is a different arm of government, he argued that the same argument could be raised as well anytime the Speaker of Parliament is sworn as acting president in the absence of the President and the Vice President.
“Then we will go for the same argument during the times that the Speaker of Parliament is sworn in as acting President on certain occasions. These situation does not happen very often but I’m very optimistic that this election will come on so I see this as academic opinions,” he further espoused.
CJ can’t take over as President if COVID-19 hampers 2020 elections – Adom-Otchere
Meanwhile, renowned media practitioner and Host of Metro TV’s Good Evening Ghana, Paul Adom-Otchere, has ruled out any possibility of the Chief Justice ascending to the highest office of the presidency in case there is no general election due to the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus in Ghana.
Mr. Adom-Otchere explained how impossible that option would be since it has no grounds in the country’s legal framework.
“We will not get there with the issue about the Chief Justice. It is fundamental to explain that in order hierarchy in terms of the most important people of the state, there is a President, Vice President, Speaker of Parliament and Chief Justice. The law does not actually contemplate the Chief Justice running the show as President because the law provides for what the Vice President does under circumstances for him to perform the functions of the President. It also provides under what circumstances it brings the Speaker,” he argued.
Suspension of new register compilation
The conduct of the December 7, 2020 polls remains uncertain given the fact that many of the electoral activities in the build-up to the polls have been put on hold until further notice as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Due to the disease, a ban on public gatherings has been imposed on Ghanaians, thereby making it impossible to conduct the elections and run other political activities in the way it has been done over the years.
The Electoral Commission (EC) was forced to suspend indefinitely plans to compile a new voters register which was scheduled to begin on April 18, due to COVID-19.
The EC had said it is collaborating with health experts to decide on a more favourable date depending on the prevalence rate of the Novel Coronavirus.
Ghana’s case count of COVID-19
Ghana currently has a total of 2,074 confirmed cases in the country with 212 recoveries and 17 deaths.
The Greater Accra Region currently has the highest number of cases, followed by the Ashanti and Eastern Regions.