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Refusal to assent to Witchcraft Bill by Prez Akufo-Addo a breach of the 1992 Constitution – Minority

Refusal to assent to Witchcraft Bill by Prez Akufo-Addo a breach of the 1992 Constitution – Minority

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Members in Ghana’s Parliament have expressed worry over an alleged refusal on the part of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo to assent to the Witchcraft Bill passed into Act by Parliament about some months ago.

The group says President Akufo-Addo’s refusal to assent to the Witchcraft Bill and the Criminal and other Offences Amendment Act passed into an Act by Parliament within the stipulated time is a breach of Ghana’s 1992 Republican Constitution.

The Criminal and other Offences Act amendment which was passed in July this year to criminalise accusations of witchcraft and the practices of witch-finders has still not been assented to by the President despite several killings related to accusations of witchcraft recorded since then.

According to the Minority Leader, Cassiel Ato Bah Forson, the President’s failure to assent to the bill is in breach of the 1992 Constitution and has thus called on parliament to take action against the president should he continue to hold out.

“So clearly Mr. Speaker there is a constitutional breach and this house must take steps to deal with the constitutional breach that we have seen and the criminal amendment bill and the witchcraft accusation bill.

And Mr. Speaker it’s important that we take steps to deal with that. And the Constitution guides us as to what we have to do if the president fails to assent to bills that have been approved by this house,” the Minority Leader reiterated.

Supporting the Minority Leader, the Tamale South Member of Parliament, (MP), Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, maintained that as stipulated in Article 106, the president is mandated to inform the house in writing why he has been unable to assent to the document.

“The Constitution provides that where the president refuses to assent to a bill he shall within 14 days after the refusal:

“a) State in a memorandum to the speaker any provisions of the bill which in his opinion should be reconsidered by Parliament including his recommendation for amendment if any; or

“b) Inform the speaker that he has referred the bill to the council of state for consideration or comment under article 90 of this constitution.”

According to the Former Minority Leader, and MP for Tamale South should Parliament refuse to act to put the President in check, this might set a very dangerous precedent that could cost the nation dearly in the future.

“Mr. Speaker I am raising this issue because this house should never ever serve a precedent where the president refuses to assent to a bill and can walk away as if he has the mandate and authority to do so.

If he has, he owes this house the fidelity to the provisions of article 106 of the constitution. Other than that some important bills may be passed tomorrow and the president will walk this wrong path. It’s wrong constitutionally, he has no reason, if he has reason he must write to you formally,” Mr. Iddrisu reiterated.

But the Minister for Parliamentary Affairs and leader of Government Business in the House in his response to the issues raised by the Minority explained that the delay in assenting to the bills by the president is not deliberate.

“Mr. Speaker, the President fined some portions of the bill which are bad, and when assented to it will give Parliament a bad image, thus the president plans to meet Mr. Speaker over the issues. But time hasn’t permitted for such a meeting. I believe that meeting will come up soon so that both sides will be on the same page.” He noted.

Story: Kwadwo BUABENG

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