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The main features of the 1957 independence constitution of Ghana

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On the 6th of March 1957, Ghana became the first country south of the Sahara to attain political independence from their colonial masters, the British. This independence came along with a constitution which was to guide the conduct of the affairs of the new nation.

The Executive – Governor-General
The constitution made provision for the position of a Governor-General. The Governor-General was appointed by the Monarch in London but this was mostly under the recommendation of the British Cabinet. The Governor-General represented the British Monarch in Ghana and carried out functions that would otherwise have been carried out by the Queen.

The Executive – Prime Minister
The constitution also made provision for the position of a Prime Minister. The constitution empowered the Governor-General to appoint a Prime Minister but this was to happen only after his or her party emerged as the dominant party in the National Assembly after a general election. The Prime Minister was therefore leader of the majority party in Parliament.

The Legislature
The constitution made provision for the establishment of a bicameral legislature and it was referred to as the National Assembly. It had a membership of 104 excluding the Governor-General. In addition, provision was made for a Speaker of Parliament to preside over the conduct of proceedings of the National Assembly.

Regional Assemblies
The constitution made provisions for the creation of Regional Assemblies for all the then existing regions. There were sectors like health, education, communication, agriculture, local government, town and country planning in the respective regions, came under the purview of Regional Assemblies. Also any matters that were referred to them by the National Assembly from time to time were added to their role.

Regional Houses of Chiefs
The independence constitution also created Regional Houses of chiefs in all the regions at the time. These Regional Houses of Chiefs handled matters that were referred to it by the National Assembly. It was also tasked to deal with chieftaincy matters.

The Judiciary
The constitution made provisions for a judiciary which was hierarchically structured, much like what pertained in Britain. There was to be created a Court of Appeal, High Court, Circuit Court, District Court, Juvenile Court and the Family Court. The highest court of appeal, however, remained the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.

Guaranteeing of Fundamental Human Rights
The constitution made provisions to guarantee the fundamental human rights of the people of the land. It allowed for free speech, freedom of movement, religion, political persuasion, etc.

1. Highlight six of the main features of the independent constitution of Ghana.

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