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Becoming the President of the Republic of Ghana: Constitutional provisions for how the President is elected

Photo source: Clickradiogh 7 mins read

It is a democratic obligation that a president is elected to have oversight of a nation. In Ghana, Chapter 8 of the 1992 Constitution stipulates that a president of the Republic of Ghana, who is to be the Head of State, Head of Government, and Commander-in-chief of the Armed forces of Ghana is elected every four years.  

Indeed, the presidency is a position with acknowledged privileges and responsibilities. 

But how does one get there? 

To put it simply, the majority of citizens put their confidence in one person to govern the affairs of the country by voting for him or her to wield that power. This electoral process is enshrined in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and the 2020 Constitutional Instrument 127.  Even though anyone can become a president, not everyone can be the president; there are certain qualifications and criteria one must meet, and processes one must undergo according to the corresponding laws and regulations, in order to be elected as President of the Republic of Ghana.

QUALIFICATIONS OF A PRESIDENT

Chapter 8, Article 62 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana details the qualifications of a Presidential Candidate with regards to citizenship, age and eligibility as a Member of Parliament (MP) – except disqualified as MP based on conviction of crime, incompetence and under death or imprisonment sentence specified in Article 94. 

It states:

A person shall not be qualified for election as the President of Ghana unless—

(a) he is a citizen of Ghana by birth;

(b) he has attained the age of forty years; and

(c) he is a person who is otherwise qualified to be elected a Member of Parliament, except that the disqualifications set out in paragraphs (c), (d), and (e) of clause (2) of article 94 of this Constitution shall not be removed, in respect of any such person, by a presidential pardon or by the lapse of time as provided for in clause (5) of that article.

ELECTION OF PRESIDENT

Chapter 8, Article 63 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and Regulations 7, 8 and 44 of the 2020 Constitutional Instrument (C.I) 127 by the Electoral Commission stipulates the election criteria of a Presidential Candidate with regards to: 

i)the nomination process

ii)the duration for the election

iii)the percentage of votes to be accumulated 

iv)the case for a run-off

v)the withdrawal of a presidential candidate and 

vi) the declaration of the results

i) The nomination process 

The Electoral Commission details the process to be followed by candidates in filing for nominations. This includes the signing and delivery of forms, the declaration of being qualified, the payment of deposit and the nomination of running mates by the presidential candidates. 

Concerning the signing and delivery of forms, Regulation 7 of the 2020 C.I 127, also specified in Chapter 8, Article 63 of the 1992 Constitution states that:

(1) A candidate for election as President shall be nominated on a nomination form in a manner determined by the Commission. 

(2) The nomination form for each candidate in an election for President shall 

(a) be signed by the candidate; 

(b) be signed by not less than two persons who are registered voters in the area of authority of each district assembly; 

(c) designate a person to serve as Vice-President; and 

(d) be delivered to the Commission on or before the day appointed as nomination day in relation to the election. 

(3) The nomination form shall be in quadruplicate and shall be delivered personally by (a) the presidential candidate, or

(b) any of the persons specified under paragraph 

(b) of subregulation (2), between the hours of nine in the morning and twelve noon and the hours of two and five in the afternoon on or before the nomination day. 

(4) A person shall not nominate more than one candidate in a presidential election. 

Regulation 8 of the 2020 C.I 127 also specifies the candidate’s declaration of qualification, submission of photos, payment of deposit and nomination of running mates.

It states that:

(1) A candidate for presidential or parliamentary election shall, at the time of the nomination of the candidate, 

(a) deliver or cause to be delivered to the returning officer 

(i) a statutory declaration stating that that candidate is qualified to be elected as President or a member of Parliament and is not disqualified from being elected as such; and 

(ii) four post-card size copies of a recent photograph of the candidate of bust size with red background showing the full face and ears of the candidate; and 

(b) deposit or cause to be deposited an amount of money determined by the Commission. 

(2) The statutory declaration shall be made before a Judge, a judicial officer, notary public, commissioner of oaths, or a person authorised by law to administer an oath who shall certify the statutory declaration under the signature of the person. 

(3) A person designated by a candidate for presidential election to serve as Vice-President shall deliver to the returning officer a statutory declaration made in accordance with subparagraph (i) of paragraph (a) of subregulation (1) and subregulation (2). 

ii) The duration for the election 

Chapter 8, Article 63 of the 1992 Constitution indicates the number of months for the election due date in consideration of the sitting president.

It states that:

(2) The election of the President shall be on the terms of universal adult suffrage and shall, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, be conducted in accordance with such regulations as may be prescribed by constitutional instrument by the Electoral Commission and shall be held so as to begin— 

(a) where a President is in office, not earlier than four months nor later than one month before his term of office expires; and 

(b) in any other case, within three months after the office of President becomes vacant; and shall be held at such place and shall begin on such date as the Electoral Commission shall, by constitutional instrument, specify. 

iii) Percentage of votes to be accumulated 

Chapter 8, Article 63 of the 1992 Constitution indicates the number of votes a candidate must accumulate in order to be considered the winner for the seat of presidency.

It states that:

(3) A person shall not be elected as President of Ghana unless at the presidential election the number of votes cast in his favour is more than fifty per cent of the total number of valid votes cast at the election. 

Regulation 44 of 2020 C.I 127 also states: 

(1) In a presidential election, the candidate who receives more than fifty percent of the total number of valid votes cast shall be declared elected as President.

iv) The case for a run-off

Chapter 8, Article 63 of the 1992 Constitution, also specified in Regulation 44 of the 2020 C.I 127 shows the circumstance under which a second election occurs, and the number of days it must be held. 

It states that:

(4) Where at a presidential election there are more than two candidates and no candidate obtains the number or percentage of votes specified in clause (3) of this article a second election shall be held within twenty-one days after the previous election. 

(5) The candidates for a presidential election held under clause (4) of this article shall be the two candidates who obtained the two highest numbers of votes at the previous election. 

(6) Where at a presidential election three or more candidates obtain the two highest numbers of votes referred to in clause (5)  of this article, then unless there are withdrawals such that only two candidates remain, another election shall be held within twenty-one days after the previous election at which the candidates who obtained the two highest numbers of votes shall, subject to any withdrawals, be the only candidates and the same process shall, subject to any withdrawal, be continued until a President is elected. 

v) Withdrawal of a candidate 

Regulation 44 of the 2020 C.I 127, also specified in Chapter 8, Article 63 of the 1992 Constitution, makes provision for a candidate to withdraw at any time before the election. 

It states that:

(5) A presidential candidate under subregulation (3) or (4) may, by writing and signed by the candidate, withdraw the candidature at any time before the election.

(6) If after a second presidential election the two candidates obtained an equal number of votes, despite any withdrawal, the Commission shall conduct an election within twenty-one days after the previous election and the two candidates shall be the only candidates and the same process shall, subject to any withdrawal, be continued until a President is elected.

vi) Declaration of the results

Chapter 8, Article 63 makes provision for the Constitutional Instrument (C.I.) by the Electoral Commission to specify who declares the results. 

It states that: 

(9) An instrument which— 

(a) is executed under the hand of the Chairman of the Electoral Commission and under the seal of the Commission; and 

(b) states that the person named in the instrument was declared elected as the President of Ghana at the election of the President, shall be Prima facie evidence that the person named was so elected

Accordingly, the Chairman of the Electoral Commission, according to the 2020 C.I. 127 is mandated to declare the presidential results, in succession from the Returning Officer,  the District Electoral Officer and the Regional Collation Officer who publicly announce the results accordingly in their jurisdictions and post copies of the results to the corresponding officers. 

The declaration of the presidential results by the E.C Chair specified in Regulation 44 of the 2020 C.I 127 involves assembling and collating the results from the regions, filling the declaration of presidential results form which is also to be signed by the representatives of the political parties, declaring the results, and posting a copy of the results at the Commission. 

Regulation 44 of the 2020 C.I 127 states: 

(10) The Chairman of the Commission shall, on receipt of the Presidential Regional Results Summary Sheet as set out in Form Twelve of the Schedule from the Regional Collation Officer, in the presence of the public and with not more than two counting agents appointed by parties contesting or the polling agents of the parties if any, 

(a) assemble and collate the presidential election results from the regions provided by the various Regional Collation Officers as set out in Form Twelve of the Schedule; 

(b) fill the Declaration of Presidential Results Form as set out in Form Thirteen of the Schedule; 

(c) request the representatives of the political parties to sign the Declaration of Presidential Results Form as set out in Form Thirteen of the Schedule; 

(d) declare the results of the election of the President; and 

(e) post a copy of the Declaration of Presidential Results Form as set out in Form Thirteen of the Schedule at the Head Office of the Commission. 

  1. TERM OF OFFICE OF PRESIDENT 

Chapter 8, Article 66 of the 1992 Constitution stipulates how long the elected candidate shall be in office after being sworn-in as president; for two terms of four years each. 

It states:

(1) A person elected as President shall, subject to clause (3) of this article, hold office for a term of four years beginning from the date on which he is sworn in as President.

(2) A person shall not be elected to hold office as President of Ghana for more than two terms. 

(3) The office of President shall become vacant— 

(a) on the expiration of the period specified in clause (1) of this article; or 

(b) if the incumbent dies or resigns from office or ceases to hold office under article 69 of this Constitution. 

Consequently, when the president is elected, the date for swearing him or her into office is on the 7th of January, the following year.

Maxine Gloria Danso is a Senior Researcher with Dubawa Ghana. Maxine has previously worked as a Research Assistant engaging in some notable communication research projects in Ghana, having completed a Master of Philosophy programme in Communication Studies at the University of Ghana, with specialisation in journalism, public relations and advertising. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and French from the University of Ghana, with a University Diploma in French Studies from Université Rennes 2 in France. Maxine contributes to the team by drawing from her knowledge and research experience in media studies.

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