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Law Made Simple: The Executive
We continue our look at the Constitution this week by looking at some of the powers of the Executive arm of the State. Chapter 5 of the Constitution provides that executive authority is vested in the President. There is also a Cabinet which has the general direction and control of the Government.
The Cabinet consists of the Prime Minister, the Attorney General and other members appointed by the President on the advice of the Prime Minister. The term “on the advice of,” means that the President must follow the advice given by the person or body who gives that “advice.”
After a general election or resignation or incapacity of the Prime Minister, the President must appoint a member of the House of Representatives who commands the support of the majority of the members of that House. Where no one does he must appoint the person who in his judgment is most likely to command the support of the majority of members of that House.
Chapter 5 also provides for the appointment of ministers, acting appointments and the removal of the Prime Minister. The appointment of the Prime Minister is to be revoked by the President where the House of Representatives passes a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister, and after seven days, he or she either does not resign or advises the President to dissolve Parliament.
In carrying out his functions, the President generally acts in keeping with the advice of the Cabinet or a minister who is acting under the authority of the Cabinet. The exceptions to this rule are where the Constitution or a law requires him to act:
• In his discretion
• after consultation with a person or body other than the Cabinet
• on the advice of a person or body other than the Cabinet.
Where the President is required to act on the advice of or after consultation with any person or body, the question whether he has so acted cannot be enquired into in any court. The Constitution provides that the President acts in his “own deliberate” judgment:
• in appointing the Prime Minister
• in appointing the Leader of the Opposition.
Where the Prime Minister is to be absent from the country or is ill and capable of advising the President she may advise the President to appoint someone else to perform her functions during the absence or illness.
Leader of the Opposition
Under the Constitution, the person appointed Leader of the Opposition must be the member of the House of Representatives who in the judgment of the President is best able to command the support of the majority of members who do not support the government.
The Constitution provides for the office to be vacant if the office holder resigns, ceases to be a member of the House of Representatives, he or she is appointed Prime Minister, or where the holder no longer commands the support of the majority of members who do not support the Government.
This column is not legal advice. If you have a legal problem you should consult a legal adviser.
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