CJ can’t take over as President if COVID-19 hampers 2020 elections – Adom-Otchere

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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.

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 pandemic.

While many continue to cast doubts on the ability of the Electoral Commission (EC) to compile a new voters’ register ahead of the presidential and parliamentary elections, several others have already begun looking into the practicalities of some constitutional provisions to be considered for the present situation.

Aside from the legal and constitutional arguments that have been advanced to minimize the risk and political implication of holding or cancelling the election in the face of the outbreak, there is a school of thought that believes that the Chief Justice as head of the Judiciary could rise to the helm of affairs as President.

But speaking on Eyewitness News, Mr. Adom-Otchere explained how impossible that option would be since it has no grounds in the country’s legal framework.

He clarified that: “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 continued to opine that, “under Articles 60, 11 and 13, you find that when the President and Vice President are both not available, the Speaker would. And it actually proceeds that when the Speaker finds himself in such a situation, he shall call elections in three months so that the Speaker’s tenure as President of Ghana within such circumstances is limited to 90 days. So I don’t think we will get to the position where there is no Speaker or Parliament of sort and therefore we have to come to the fourth most important person; the Chief Justice. I don’t think the Constitution contemplates that. The list that is given in terms of the four is to indicate in terms of the state. It’s really a protocol issue.”

Election 2020 in limbo?

The Electoral Commission suspended its planned compilation of new voters’ register because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

It was initially scheduled for April 18, 2020, but no new date has since been announced.

The EC has said it wants to ensure that the register that is used on the election day is more credible and efficient than the existing one hence the need for a new Biometric Voter Management System (BVMS).

The move for the new register has however been met with opposition from key political stakeholders, including the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

Ghana has recorded 636 cases with eight deaths and 17 recoveries, but with ten out of the 16 regions recording cases, many are questioning whether the 2020 general elections could be organized as planned.

The President’s ban on all public gatherings, conferences, workshops, funerals, festivals, religious activities included political rallies and all other related events as part of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus in the country.

Areas such as the Greater Accra Metropolitan including Tema and Kasoa as well as the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area are currently under a partial lockdown.

Already, the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) has suspended its April 25, 2020, parliamentary primaries indefinitely amidst the COVID-19 scare.

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