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Parliament to seek legal interpretation on President Akufo-Addo’s unassented bills – Speaker Bagbin

January 12, 2024
Parliament to seek legal interpretation on President Akufo-Addo's unassented bills - Speaker Bagbin
Akufo-Addo and Alban Bagbin

The Speaker of , , has revealed that Parliament intends to seek legal interpretation regarding President Nana Addo Dankwa 's decision not to sign certain bills passed by the House.

Last year, the President declined to assent to the Criminal Offences Bill of 2022, the Witchcraft Bill, and the Armed Forces Bill of 2023, citing financial implications as his reason.

In response to the President's refusal, Speaker Bagbin announced Parliament's decision to pursue legal recourse.

During a recent statement, he expressed his intention to engage with President Akufo-Addo while highlighting the disagreement over the bills. Bagbin made it clear that the matter would be brought to court for interpretation.

“I want to end up by assuring you that I will definitely be in touch with my good friend the president, his excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, even though I disagree with him in his refusal to assent to our bills, and I have given notice that we will be in court about this matter,” he stated.

Bagbin emphasized that the determination of the constitutionality of the bills lies solely within the jurisdiction of the .

He argued that any concerns about Parliament exceeding its constitutional authority should be contested before the Supreme Court and not decided unilaterally by the President.

President Akufo-Addo specifically pointed out the Amendment Bill, sponsored by MP Francis-, as having financial implications tied to replacing the death penalty with life imprisonment.

Responding officially to the President's stance, Speaker Bagbin clarified, “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 added, “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.” The legal interpretation sought by Parliament is expected to bring clarity to this constitutional impasse.

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