Former Presidents of the Republic of Ghana, John Agyekum Kufuor and Jerry John Rawlings, have called on the Council of State to make its activities transparent.
The two ex-leaders made the call at the second edition of the Accra dialogue on Wednesday, 16 August, 2017 in Accra.
The dialogue, organized by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and the GIMPA Institute of Law and Public Affairs, was under the theme: The Role of The Council – A Critical Assay.
It was used to deliberate on whether or not the council of state should be maintained in the democratic dispensation.
Former President Kufuor, who delivered the first keynote address, indicated that it was necessary to have the council.
He said its activities must not be held in-camera and made exclusive to the sitting President.
Recounting the operations of the Council of State during his tenure, Mr. Kufuor indicated that it would be extremely difficult for the masses to know when the President refuses to heed an advice given him by the Council if that happens in camera.
He said Council of State members must be individuals chosen primarily on the basis of experience and not solely democratic principles.
According to Mr. Kufuor, members of the Council must be fearless and critical in advising the President on important matters concerning the state and must make their rich experience impact other institutions of state like Parliament.
The Constitution provides that the meetings of the Council must be held in camera and many citizens believe the council is not transparent enough, hence the call to make its operations open to enable the masses appreciate it.
Mr. Rawlings, who mounted the podium after ex-President Kufuor delivered his speech, also called for transparency in the operations of the Council.
“For once, I may have to admit that I found common grounds with Kufuor,” Mr. Rawlings said to a loud cheer from the audience seated at the Moot Court of GIMPA Faculty of Law.
He was of the opinion that the Council resonates with the African traditional set up in which there is a chief, who receives advice from his elders.
He noted that the Council should be retained, but called for some reforms.
Touching on the perception that the Council is a duplication of institution of government, the former President stated emphatically that the Council is an important constitutional body and must be retained.
However, he noted that citizens must be vigilant and hold members of the Council to account at all times.
In his opinion, a well-chosen council of state is an asset to a state and government but added that its members must show nationalism.
He said that responsible members of a Council of State must be spiritual, honourable and honest, among others.
Unfortunately, some Council members over the years have not exhibited such traits, he added.
He indicated that until Council members can display such characteristics, the President may not see the need to take their advice.
By Melvin Tarlue