January 29, 1968: Elections and Public Offices Disqualification Decree

The National Liberation Council (NLC) transition to civilian rule program, took the familiar Nigerian route, starting up with the creation of the Constitutional Commission, the Constituent Assembly, lifting the ban on politics, electioneering campaigns, elections and the final handing over of power to a civilian government.

To ensure that the old guard, especially those of the former regime, were prevented from participating in the electoral process, a highly controversial Election and Public Offices Disqualification Decree was published on January 29th, 1968. This effectively barred certain members of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP) from holding office for 10 years.
There was an initial comprehensive ban on CPP activists and employees by Decree No.223, even though those affected could appeal to the Exemption Commission. This ban principally barred affected individuals from being eligible for the Constituent Assembly and the National Assembly. The decree was eventually replaced with a new one following public reactions and outcry. The NLC was inconsistent in the banning of former CPP activists and as some of them appealed to the Exemptions Commission with their cases is still pending, the NLC came out with yet another decree disqualifying 150 former CPP officials for a ten-year period. This was a prelude to the inauguration of the new Constitutional Commission which was established comprising 18 outstanding Ghanaian citizens chaired by Chief Justice Akuffo-Addo. The draft document was a combination of the Whitehall and Washington models, with a very strong emphasis in favor of fundamental freedoms and civil rights. Ironically, the civil rights of a large portion of the political spectrum had been clearly violated in the run-up to the new civilian administration.