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The battle of Chiefs of Staff for running mate – Julius and Frema

Article 60 (1-10) of the 1992 constitution is dedicated to the office of a vice president and/or running mate ahead of elections in Ghana

The two major political parties in Ghana, the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) have both elected their presidential candidates ahead of the 7 December 2024 general elections.

The NPP elected its candidate, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia (serving as Vice President of the Republic) on 4 November 2023, and the NDC on 13 May 2023 elected John Dramani Mahama (former president) as its candidate.

Article 60 clause 1 to 10 of the 1992 constitution of Ghana is dedicated to the office of a vice president and/or the vice presidential candidate ahead of presidential elections in Ghana. Article 60 (1) of the Constitution states; “There shall be a Vice-President of Ghana who shall perform such functions as may be assigned to him by this Constitution or by the President.”

“(2) A candidate for the office of Vice-President shall be designated by the candidate for the office of President before the election of President.

“(3) The provisions of article 62 of this Constitution apply to a candidate for election as Vice-President.

“(4) A candidate shall be deemed to be duly elected as Vice-President if the candidate who designated him as candidate for election to the office of Vice-President has been duly elected as President in accordance with the provisions of article 63 of this Constitution.

“(5) The Vice-President shall, before commencing to perform the functions of Vice-President, take and subscribe the oath of allegiance and the Vice-Presidential oath set out in the Second Schedule to this Constitution.

“(6) Whenever the President dies, resigns or is removed from office, the Vice-President shall assume office as President for the unexpired term of office of the President with effect from the date of the death, resignation or removal of the President.

“(7) Where the unexpired term served by the Vice-President under clause (6) of this article exceeds half the term of a President, the Vice-President is subsequently only eligible to serve one full term as President.

“(8) Whenever the President is absent from Ghana or is for any other reason unable to perform the functions of his office, the Vice-President shall perform the function of the President until the President returns or is able to perform.

“(9) The Vice-President shall, before commencing to perform the functions of the President under clause (6) of this article, take and subscribe the oath set out in the Second Schedule to this Constitution in relation to the office of President.

“(10) The Vice-President shall, upon assuming office as President under clause (6) of this article, nominate a person to the office of Vice-President subject to approval by Parliament.”

Clearly, no presidential candidate in Ghana can contest in a general election without a vice presidential running mate. To this end, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia (the NPP presidential candidate) and John Mahama (the NDC 4th time presidential candidate) would have to select running mates for 2024 elections.

From the camp of both the NPP and the NDC, two names have emerged who have both served in the position of Chief of Staff at the office of the president. Julius Debrah served as chief of staff during the erstwhile John Mahama administration from 2015 to January 2017.

Madam Akosua Frema Osei Opare assumed office as Chief of Staff when Akufo-Addo became president from 7 January 2017, and she continues to serve in that capacity to date. Ironically, the names of both Madam Frema Osei Opare and Julius Debrah have come up for consideration as running mates to Dr Mahamudu Bawumia (NPP) and John Mahama (NDC) respectively.

While Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia remains tight-lipped about who he will choose as his running mate for the 2024 presidential elections, Mr Mahama has given the clearest hint yet of his intention to choose his former Chief of Staff, Julius Debrah as his running mate for the 2024 elections.

Speaking during his “Building Ghana Tour” in the Bono East Region in the third week of November 2023, Mr Mahama asked his party members and supporters to exercise restraint and wait till next year. He said the likely running mate is someone who had served in his government as a minister and discharged his duties effectively.

He added that his running mate to be is a humble person who has the interest of the people at heart. Mr Mahama added that the party has rules in selecting a running mate. Hence, those processes would be followed.

In the event that Mr Mahama chooses Julius Debrah, his former Chief of Staff as his running mate, would his choice be good reason enough for Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia to consider choosing President Akufo-Addo’s Chief of Staff as his running mate for election 2024.

Would the fact that she is the first female to serve in the high office as Chief of Staff bring any added value to Dr Bawumia’s first attempt at the presidency of the Republic, especially if Mr Mahama, drops the female personality (Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang) he run with in the 2020 presidential elections?

Reporting by Wilberforce Asare in Accra

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