Chiefs have rights to express themselves on govt policies – Martin Kpebu insists

A private legal practitioner, Martin Kpebu, has observed that traditional authorities have the right to express themselves on policies of various governments in the country.

He explained that despite the 1992 Constitution kicking against chiefs actively engaging in partisan politics, they are not completely barred from expressing themselves on national issues or policies.

Mr Kpebu said there was no doubt at all that where traditional authorities indicated in very clear terms that they preferred one presidential candidate over the other then that should form part of active politics but be practical so the traditional authorities must speak.

This follows concerns raised on a recent trend of chiefs openly engaging in partisan politics.

“It’s not as if the Constitution envisages in it that chiefs cannot speak at all. No! If there’s a policy chiefs thinks the policy is good, they may endorse it without necessarily asking people or their subjects to vote,” Mr Kpebu stressed.

Some chiefs, including the Paramount Chief (Okyenhene) of Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area, Osagyefo Amoatia Ofori Panin II and Omanhene of Mehame Traditional Area, Nana Owusu Kontoh II, and Oseadeeyo Agyeman Badu II, openly declared support for some political party presidential candidates.

At a durbar held in honour of President Nana Akufo-Addo on the second day of his three-day tour of the Eastern Region, the Okyenhene noted that the President has demonstrated that he is, indeed, “a President for all Ghanaians” and urged them to vote him in power to serve another four year term.

Subsequently, Nana Owusu Kontoh II at a durbar at Mehame in the Asutifi South Constituency of the Ahafo Region, also expressed gratitude to former President John Mahama for ensuring growth and development at Mehame and other communities in the Constituency and the Dormaahene also endorsed the former president during his visit to the Bono Region.

However, Associate Professor at the University of Ghana, Ransford Gyampo, among others, have condemned the act and pointed out that ” traditional authorities conducting themselves in the manner are gradually eroding their respect and undermining their traditional authority and must be called to order.

But reacting to the concerns, Mr Kpebu maintained that chiefs also had the right to express themselves on policies, programmes and social interventions of political parties without endorsing their presidential candidates.

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