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AGA/UMOJAFRIKA 8/04/2011 PRESENTATION TO THE CRC (CONSTITUTIONAL REVIEW COMMISSION) OF GHANA IN LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
The Chairman of the CRC Professor Albert K. Fiadjo, His Excellency our Ghanaian High Commissioner here in the UK H.E, Professor K. Dansu-Boafo, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen;
May I offer you all a presentation on our chosen topic:
"STRENGTHENING THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GHANA BY THE CONSTITUTIONAL ENSHRINEMENT OF POPULAR DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION OF AFRICANS IN GHANA IN THE AU PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION"
I am making this statement as a joint presentation of both the Action Group for Africa (AGA) and the UMOJAFRIKA Movement for Afrikan People's Unity, our two organisations that are now working together here in the United Kingdom and in Ghana to build the International Campaign for a Democratic Afrikan Union (ICDAU) throughout Afrika and the rest of the World.
Thank you very much for giving us a slot in this once in a life time consultative forum on a new Constitution for our motherland Ghana. You have come a very long way just to ensure that every interest of the Ghanaian, direct or remote, is not allowed to escape the purview of our collective quest for improvements to the Constitution of the Fourth Republic of Ghana. To the best of our knowledge, the disenfranchisement of the majority of Ghanaians and Africans in the presidential election of the AU is a serious constitutional problem that deserves a solution with new provisions in the Constitution of Ghana for it to be pioneeringly different. It is upon this important question of the disenfranchisement of Ghanaians as a people in the AU presidential election that we premise most of the other problems Ghana is going through today.
Currently, the weight of the decision of who the nation of Ghana prefer to be the AU Commission Chairman every four (4) years is premised on Article 75 of the 1992 Constitution, section 1 that says “The President may execute or cause to be executed treaties, agreements or conventions in the name of Ghana”. Thus in the name of Ghana, the President of Ghana vote in the presidential election of the AU authority, every 4 years on behalf of the people of Ghana in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This practice unfortunately has yielded no result at all and it seem to be the sole clog in the relationship between the president of the AU authority and the masses of Ghana, to whom the functional union aim to serve. However, given the function of the AU in the life of the ordinary Ghanaian that involve popular participation, provision of employment, infrastructures, common defence, democracy, scientific research and technological development, eradication of diseases, etc, The role of the AU greatly differ from that of the United Nations in the life of the ordinary Ghanaian. Thus lumping these institutions together as INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS in the 1992 Constitution, despite the differences in demands of the people, make the whole thing unfortunate. The EU (European Union) is clearly a different institution from the UN in its function and relationships with its member states citizens while the AU continue to mirror the UN.
Sir, the practical solution to the above concern seem to lie in Article 75, section 2 that says, “A treaty, agreement or convention executed by or under the authority of the President shall be subject to rectification by”- (b) “a resolution of Parliament supported by the votes of more than one-half of all the members of Parliament”. So the slight modification of Article 75 section 2 (b) of the 1992 constitution with the understanding that the AU presidential election is a convention of the AU, this then will read (i) the Parliament shall carry out the election of the president of the AU by the votes of more than one-half of all its members as a rectification of the candidates presented to it by the President as the head of state of the Republic and as a member of the AU Assembly”. The understanding here is that the President as part of the AU Assembly is very instrumental in the selection of the 2 candidates and their two deputies from across the 53 member states and upon agreement, shall be the one to present these individuals to the Ghanaian Parliament. So the voting by the members of our Parliament is then as good as exercising their constitutional duty of rectifying the convention of the AU.
The choice of who becomes the OAU/AU Chief for the past 48 years has been an exclusive privilege of some few persons, notably the heads of states of the Union’s member-states (i.e. the Assembly members of the Union). This practice, which has not changed in step with many changing things on the continent of Africa today, is believed to be the greatest reason for why the Union has remained a toothless bulldog before all the challenges that no single member-state of the Union, on its own, can solve. This concern is no doubt a constitutional one as it seeks to re-address fundamentally the way the citizens of Ghana relate with their Union and the one in charge of the day to day functioning of the Union. This as well seeks to address the way the problem of the Ghanaian will be approached by the representatives of the Union in the future, given the constraints of our government, which is making addressing our problems within the Union a bit difficult. A typical case fresh in mind is the recent frustrating situation Ghanaian citizens found themselves in during the evacuation exercise in Libya and the limited resources at the disposal of the Ghanaian government. Evacuation of this sort could have been more efficiently carried out by the African Union which would have involved the organized and mass removal of not only Ghanaian nationals but the nationals of all the 53 AU member-states as well. Worst still, God knows the horrors Ghanaian citizens go through while in other AU member-states and elsewhere in and outside Africa where huge number of Ghanaians reside. The situation is even more chilling given the nature of the crisis engulfing the whole continent.
So, given the recognisable fact that the resources available at the disposal of our government and our electoral commission make it practically not feasible to start immediately now with a one-person-one-vote exercise to achieve the noble goal of true popular democratization of the African Union in its entirety, we take the view that allowing the honourable members of the Ghanaian Parliament to be debating the potentials of the AU Authority Presidency (Commission Chairmanship) candidates and voting on behalf of their constituencies, will be a more practical step forward in our Union’s quest for genuine democratic advancement.
The participation of our Ghanaian House of Parliament in the AU presidential election will come with the following;
a) Widening the scope of the AU presidential election from just one person ( the president of Ghana) to 228 Honourable Members of the Ghanaian Parliament
b) This will reflect a much more representation of the views of our Ghanaian culture and constituencies of the members of our parliament
c) It will strengthen more the ultimate role of the AU authority’s president in its duty of fostering our democratic shared values across the member states
d) Our Parliament will be more informed on the manifestoes of the candidates which will be forming the basis on which our honourable MP’s will be casting their votes on our behalf
e) The president of the AU authority will be forced to increase his/her level of consultation with out parliament, thus forging a better working relationship among the Commission, our Ghanaian president and the Ghanaian parliament, on issues of the Union concerning the Ghanaian citizens
f) The AU presidential election will cease to be taking place outside Ghana in far away Addis Ababa and become an activities happening within Ghana to determine what we want in the AU from inside Ghana
g) The participation of our members of parliament will be a better reflection of the political parties and views of the Ghanaians than just the view of the president that could be limited to himself and his party, in the Union
h) The participation of the Ghanaian MPs will not only increase the awareness level of the members pertaining to the AU agenda but will also allow them to be able to judge the elected candidate performance and hold him/her responsible for an action or inaction of the Union, as against the current practice.
Mr. Chairman, permit me to highlight the fact that the above activities will not in any way be undermining the role of His Excellency the President of Ghana in his traditional role of expressing the view of the Ghanaian Parliament in Addis Ababa that involve making the submission of the final result to the Union’s Commission. Thus, our president will be voting as other heads of states are doing so in indicating their respective AU member states choices. The president of Ghana as well shall be exercising his role in the Assembly of the Union that serves as the highest decision making body of the Union. It is also very important to bear in mind the president of Ghana, as a member of the AU Assembly that be performs the collegial role and instrumental in choosing the candidates and their deputies, allow him to have the first say with his colleagues in electing the candidates across the continent before the Ghanaian Parliament will be making the final choice on behalf of the Ghanaian constituencies.
Ghana our beloved nation has been the pioneer of great things on the African continent. Our forever burning love for Freedom and Justice, that saw victorious expression in our winning of the fundamental human and peoples' right to Self-Determination with the proclamation by Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah of the independence of Ghana on 6th March 1957, rekindled the flames of struggle for total Liberation and unification among all African people throughout the continent and diaspora of Afrika particularly in the 1960s. Yes, we have done it before and sure, we are doing it again. Once again, the time has come for us to set the pace of another history-making great leap forward in our people's own home-grown creativity of democracy and popular participation on the continent of Africa that will open another era in the life of our nation and its forward march to Afrikan Unity.
There is no doubt other fellow Ghanaians would have made a lot of very important submissions on other vital areas calling for change in our current Constitution. We strongly pray that the CRC will still have a place in the changes to be made to the Constitution of the Fourth Republic of Ghana for enshrining the genuine democratic popularization of the AU presidential election, at least starting with the members of our Ghanaian national parliament.
Delivered by Kofi Ali Abdul Yekin
For and on behalf of both the AGA and UMOJAFRIKA: founding member-organisations of ICDAU.
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