George Ayittey

Police should NOT have arrested Kennedy Agyepong, MP or gotten involved in this case. This is police over-reach. The independence of parliament as an institution needs to be respected by the Police. Parliament has its own rules, regulations and protocol. If an MP misbehaves and spits incendiary rhetoric, the Parliamentary ETHICS or DISPLNARY Committee, should haul Kennedy Agyepong in for grilling. He represents a constituency and what he said was a POLITICAL SPEECH and incendiary. If he is unable to explain why he made those remarks, Parliament can mete out the appropriate punishment, ranging from reprimand, suspension of parliamentary privileges to expulsion from parliament. The Police need to be careful and not overstep their boundaries and usurp the functions of other institutions such as parliament. You do not want a Police force that is politicized and only acts “on orders from above.”

If, on the other hand, Kennedy Agyepong were not an MP and were say an opposition leader or supporter, the Police would have every right to arrest him for “incitement to violence.” Free speech is a right but must be exercised responsibly. You don’t board an airplane and shout “Hijack!” and claim you are exercising your free speech rights, do you?

The real culprit in all this talk of war is Ghana’s idiotic 1992 Constitution. In any ordinary system of governance, you must have institutional checks and balances. You have the Executive, the Legislature, the Judiciary, the Electoral Commission and Law Enforcement. Each has a role to play and each must be fairly independent of each other for each to perform its role effectively. But the independence of these institutions was seriously eroded and compromised by the 1992 Constitution, which was written to the dictates of Rawlings.

Remember, Rawlings converted to democracy reluctantly. His modus operandi was “CONTROL.” So when he converted to democratic principles, he made sure he, as president, controlled all the important levers of power. Thus, the 1992 Constitution created a very powerful president, who appoints the Speaker of Parliament, the Supreme Court Justices, the Inspector-General of Police, 11 of the 25 members of the Council of State and 30 percent of all the District Assembly members. The most outrageous contumely was that of the Electoral Commission. Rawlings locked in his protégé, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, as the Electoral Commissioner FOR LIFE! Unless, he voluntarily resigns, you cannot sack the Electoral Commissioner without changing or amending the Constitution! Imagine. Ghana is the only country in the world that confers life-time employment to the Electoral Commissioner. All presidents are subject to a two-term limit. Dr. Afari-Gyan is subject to no term limits. The Electoral Commission has never been independent since 1992. Under these circumstances created by the 1992 Constitution, these institutions can be hijacked or subverted to serve the interests of the executive or prevented from doing their professional work because of too much political interference. Hence, the arrest of an MP from “orders from above.” As I explained above, this should NEVER have happened because Parliament has its own rules, regulations and protocol.

I have railed persistently against that idiotic 1992 Constitution. Since you can only amend or change it two-thirds majority in Parliament, I worked tirelessly to rope all the opposition parties into an alliance. If they could unite, they would sweep Parliament and with a supra-majority, they would be able to jettison that 1992 Constitution. Did they? They were hopelessly fragmented, constantly bickering and susceptible to cooptation and bribery. The NPP has been better organized and more disciplined than the Nkrumahist group. [For the record, I do not belong to any party in Ghana.]

Finally, the parliamentarians realized that something had to be done about the 1992 Constitution. A Constitution Review Commission was set up in 2009. And its report? Never mind. Ghana



Posted by on May 19 2012. Filed under Community News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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