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The features of the 1960 Republican constitution of Ghana

Kwame Nkrumah, Mausoleum, Accra, Ghana

Three years after Ghana gained independence from the British, the government drafted proposals for a Republican constitution in order to turn Ghana into a Republic. The proposals were presented to the National Assembly which was sitting as a Constituent Assembly. The proposed constitution was approved by a great majority of the people in a plebiscite in April the following month. After it was enacted by the Constituent Assembly on 29th June, 1960, the Republican constitution came into effect on 1st July, 1960.

Position of Governor-General
One of the features of the republican constitution was that it abolished the position of the Governor-General. The independence constitution provided that the Queen of England should continue as the ceremonial Head of State of Ghana to be represented by a Governor-General. The new constitution removed the Queen as the Head of State and therefore the position of the Governor-General too.

Sweeping powers for the president
Another feature of the constitution was that it gave very wide powers to the president of the Republic. For example, under Article 55 of the constitution, the President had the power to pass a law. Also, he had the powers to override any legislation from any quarters. The only limit to the powers of the president was the constitution itself.

Single executive
The Republican constitution also made provisions for a single executive. Under this arrangement, the president was both the Head of State and the Head of Government. The constitution provided that after the members of the National Assembly were directly elected by the people in a general election, the National Assembly now constitutes an electoral college to elect the president of the republic.

In case of defeat, president may dissolve the National Assembly
Also, the Republican constitution provided that the president could resign or call for fresh elections if he was defeated in the National Assembly. In other words, the president had the power to dissolve the National Assembly and call for fresh elections if he failed to be elected by the National Assembly, sitting as an electoral college. In addition, the constitution provided that all members of the president’s cabinet must be drawn from the National Assembly and must partake in the proceedings of the Assembly.

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Absence of the position of a vice-president
In a unique fashion, the Republican constitution did not make any provision for the position of a vice-president. This aspect of the constitution was borrowed from the African Traditional governance system where the chief did not have a deputy.

Unicameral Legislature
The constitution provided for a unicameral legislature. The new parliament was to be made up of the president, acting as the Head of State and 104 Members of Parliament directly elected by the people in a general election. The 104 Members of Parliament constituted the National Assembly, presided over by a Speaker.

Regional Houses of Chiefs
The constitution made provision for the creation of Regional Houses of Chiefs in all the regions in existence at the time. The Houses of Chiefs were to be presided over by a president who was to be elected for a two-year term. The main function of the Houses of Chiefs was to advice the government on matters of customary law.

1. Highlight six features of the 1960 Republican constitution of Ghana

The functions and powers of the president under the 1960 Republican constitution of Ghana
The functions and powers of the National Assembly under the Republican constitution of Ghana

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