The ongoing dispute between Parliament and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has taken a legal turn, with Parliament announcing its intention to seek legal interpretation regarding the President’s refusal to sign certain bills into law.
Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin, made the announcement, highlighting the need for clarification on the constitutionality of the President’s actions.
In 2023, President Akufo-Addo declined to sign three crucial bills—namely, the Criminal Offences Bill of 2022, the Witchcraft Bill, and the Armed Forces Bill of 2023. The President cited the financial implications associated with these bills as the primary reason for withholding his assent.
Speaker Bagbin emphasized that the determination of the constitutionality of these bills falls within the exclusive jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
Akufo-Addo and Bagbin
He argued that any concerns about potential misuse of parliamentary authority should be addressed through legal proceedings before the Supreme Court, rather than the President unilaterally declaring them unconstitutional.
Specifically, President Akufo-Addo pointed out financial concerns related to the Ghana Armed Forces Amendment Bill, which sought to replace the death penalty with life imprisonment. In response, Speaker Bagbin asserted,
“The determination of any unconstitutionality is the sole purview of the Supreme Court, not the President. Hence, if there were concerns about Parliament acting beyond its constitutional authority, i.e., acting ultra vires, the appropriate course of action would be an action before the Supreme Court, not an executive declaration of unconstitutionality.”
He further highlighted that if there were allegations of Parliament exceeding its constitutional authority, the appropriate course of action should be legal proceedings before the Supreme Court.
“Again, the constitutional discretion vested in the presiding officer of Parliament, as per Article 108 and subject to Article 296, suggests that any allegations of misuse of this discretion should be contested in a court of competent jurisdiction, rather than being pre-emptively adjudicated upon by the President”
Meanwhile, Member of Parliament and Sponsor of the Ghana Armed Forces Amendment Bill, MP Francis-Xavier Sosu asserts that President Akufo-Addo’s refusal to sign three bills passed by the House is a deliberate attempt to hinder the legislative progress of Parliament.
“I believe that what the president is doing is a deliberate effort to frustrate the laws that have been passed by this Parliament and it is very untenable, it’s unacceptable, I don’t believe that it’s a good practice that would aid our democracy,” Mr Sosu told the Media in December,2023.