Despite the passage of the Criminal and Other Offences Act amendment in July of this year, criminalizing accusations of witchcraft and the practices of witch-finders, the President has yet to give his approval. This delay is especially concerning, given the recorded instances of killings related to accusations of witchcraft since the bill's passage.
Minority bashes Akufo-Addo for failure to sign witchcraft bill, says it's a crime
The Minority in Parliament has cited President Akufo-Addo for violating the constitution due to his failure to assent to the amendment to the Criminal and Other Offences Act within the specified timeframe.
Minority Leader Cassiel Ato Forson contends that the President's non-assent to the bill constitutes a breach of the constitution. He is urging Parliament to take action against the President if he continues to withhold approval. Forson emphasizes the need for the House to address this constitutional breach promptly.
“So clearly Mr. Speaker there is a constitutional breach and this house must take steps to deal with the constitutional breach that we have seen and the criminal amendment bill and the witchcraft accusation bill.
“And Mr. Speaker it’s important that we take steps to deal with that. And the constitution guides us as to what we have to do if the president fails to assent to bills that have been approved by this house,” Ato Forson said.
Tamale South MP Haruna Iddrisu backed the Minority leader's call, citing Article 106 of the constitution, which mandates the President to inform parliament in writing if he is unable to assent to a bill. Iddrisu highlights the President's obligation to either suggest reconsideration of specific provisions or inform the Speaker of referring the bill to the Council of State for consideration or comment.
The former Minority Leader warned that failure to hold the President accountable could set a dangerous example. He argues that the President should adhere to the constitutional provisions outlined in Article 106 and, if there are reasons for non-assent, formally communicate them to the House to prevent future constitutional deviations.
“Mr. Speaker I am raising this issue because this house should never ever serve a precedent where the president refuses to assent to a bill and can walk away as if he has the mandate and authority to do so.
“If he has, he owes this house the fidelity to the provisions of article 106 the constitution. Other than that, some important bills tomorrow may pass and the president will walk this wrong path. It’s wrong constitutionally, he has no reason, if he has reason he must write to you formally,” he said.
The constitution, in Article 106, stipulates that in the event the president declines to approve a bill, he must, within 14 days following the rejection:
a) Present a memorandum to the speaker outlining any provisions of the bill he believes should be reconsidered by parliament, along with his recommendations for amendment if any; or
b) Notify the speaker that he has forwarded the bill to the council of state for examination or commentary in accordance with Article 90 of this constitution.
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