Feature Article of Friday, 18 February 2011
Columnist: Ata, Kofi
Good morning, Mr Vice-President,
Good morning, Madam Speaker,
Good morning, Honourable Members,
Good morning, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good morning, My Brothers and Sisters, so began the Presidential Sate of the Nation address in Parliament yesterday, in the presence of the Chief Justice, the Diplomatic Corps and the immediate past President of the Republic. Why were they left out in the salutation?
In affairs of the Sate and on certain important occasions, getting the salutation right is as important as the state herself, especially, in a democratic society when the three arms of government (The Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary) are present at one place in official capacity. Recognition of the three arms of government by each other is critical for the rule of law and democratic accountability. It is also about respecting and acknowledging the authority and the roles of the office (even if not the individual office holder) by each arm of government amongst themselves. I am sure, the President, who is a law professor is in no doubt, aware of this. It is therefore imaginable for a President not to acknowledge and respect the office of the Head of the Judiciary, the Chief Justice at such an august event. I was shocked beyond belief when I listened to the audio of the President’s speech on Joy FM’s website. In fact, what horrified me, was that, some Honourable Members of the House (possibly, the minority) reminded the President of the presence of the Chief Justice and her omission in the salutation but sadly, the President paused for the noise to die down and continued without ameliorating his blunder. I wonder how the Chief Justice felt at that material moment when the President who is the head of the Executive refused to acknowledge her presence, despite being reminded of the presence of the Head of the Judiciary.
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