Amending the Constitution of Ghana: Is the Imperial President Trespassing?
Stephen Kwaku Asare
University of Florida - Fisher School of Accounting
H. Kwasi Prempeh
Seton Hall University School of Law
May 23, 2010
African Journal of International and Comparative Law, Forthcoming
Ghana, the country widely acknowledged as the contemporary leader in African democratization, is currently embarked on a comprehensive review of its Fourth Republican Constitution, in force since the restoration of constitutional democracy in 1993. This process of constitutional revision was initiated unilaterally by the President of Ghana by his appointment in January 2010 of a nine-member extra-parliamentary constitution review commission. The mandate of the commission includes the preparation of a draft Bill of proposed amendments to the Ghana constitution. In this article, we argue that this latest extension of the Ghana president’s prerogatives is both ill-advised and of dubious constitutionality. We believe that, Parliament, not the President, is the constitutionally legitimate and appropriate body to initiate and set the agenda for constitutional change in Ghana. We reach this conclusion on the basis of a textual and structural analysis of relevant provisions of the Ghana constitution, and also advance a set of policy rationales why Parliament, not the presidency, is where the power to review and revise Ghana’s constitution must be located. In our view, an assertion of presidential primacy and control over the process and agenda for constitutional review and amendment, and parliamentary acquiescence in this move, sets a bad constitutional precedent, one that further entrenches Ghana’s tradition of an imperial presidency and extends the tentacles of the presidency to new and dangerous frontiers.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 40
Keywords: Constitutional Amendments, Ghana, Imperial Presidency, Africa, Democratization
Date posted: May 25, 2010