From our man in Kumasi – The beating heart of modern Ghana is the Asante kingdom, which has an unbroken line of succession to the 1500’s.
While the king has no official role or power in the wider state of Ghana, he is still by all accounts absolute monarch in the Asante region – easily Ghana’s richest thanks to its substantial gold deposits.
As supreme head of the large confederation of tribes and as the real authority in a very rich region, the state have always been careful to accord Otumfuo Osei Tutu II the respect due to a king.
Yet following a recent set of contretemps with the government’s Regional Minister, the government has dropped this traditional respect – pointedly referring to him merely as a ‘chief’ rather than king. While the difference may not be readily apparent, it is important.
A leading constitutional lawyer, Mr. Kwame Arhin, said the reference to the Asantehene as a chief is erroneous and deliberately offensive. He said the relationship of the Asantehene with his paramount chiefs is not a matter of primus-inter-pares, but as an overlord exercising absolute power over them.
“Whatever the government may think, on the ground he is a very powerful monarch,” he said, and warned that one exercises decorum when dealing with the Golden Stool (the Asante throne).
Now, local media are reporting that the Regional Minister will impose a curfew and compel the Asantehene to comply, bringing the matter to a head.
Mr Arhin said a Regional Minister, as a political figure could not compare himself to the Asantehene, and was risking widespread civil unrest, claiming a regional Minister who does not keep a proper rapport with the Asantehene did so at his own risk.
“The Regional Minister exists on the goodwill of the Asantehene”.