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Charlotte Kesson-Smith Osei (born 1 February 1969) is the UN International Elections Commissioner, a Ghanaian lawyer and former chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana from 2015 until she was dismissed in June 2018 on grounds of financial malfeasance. Her dismissal has been challenged in the Supreme Court of Ghana by two separate writs. She became the first female to serve in the office of the Electoral Commission of Ghana since the independence of Ghana. Before her appointment she was the chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education. In May 2019, she was appointed by the United Nations to be on a team of international advisors, to assist in managing the 2019 presidential elections in Afghanistan.
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Charlotte Kesson-Smith Osei
Chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana
2015 – 2018
John Dramani Mahama
Jean Adukwei Mensa
Chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education
1 February 1969 (age 52)
University of Ghana
Ghana National College
Early life and education
Osei was born in Axim, Ghana. Her mother who is of mixed West African nationality is not Ghanaian and her father, also of mixed west African nationality, has a parent being Ghanaian.
Osei had her secondary education at the Ghana National College in Cape Coast. She proceeded to the University of Ghana where she obtained her LLB in 1992 and Ghana School of Law where she obtained and called to the bar in 1994. She also holds Master of Business Leadership (MBL) from the University of South Africa, Pretoria (2006), Master of Laws, (LLM), from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Osei was a teaching assistant at the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana, Legon in 1994 to 1995. She worked as a lawyer for Laryea Company in Accra from 1994 to 1997, then as Senior Legal Officer at the Ghana Commercial Bank from 1997 until 2002. She also lectured part time in commercial law at the university from 1997 until 2003.
From 2002 until 2005, Osei worked as general counsel for Unibank Ghana, and then from 2005 until 2011 as founder and lead counsel for business lawyers, Prime Attorneys. She was chairperson of the National Commission for Civic Education from 2011 until 2015. In 2015 she was appointed chairperson of the Electoral Commission of Ghana and she presided as the Returning Officer for Ghana's 2016 Presidential and Parliamentary elections In May 2019, the United Nations appointed Charlotte Osei as an International Elections Commissioner to Afghanistan, this was confirmed by a Presidential Decree issued by the President of Afghanistan, Ashraf Ghani.
Controversies and allegations
On 28 June 2018, Osei was removed following a committee set up by the Chief Justice, Justice Sophia Akuffo to investigate complaints and corruption allegations levelled against her. The committee was set up based on the provision stipulated under Article 146(4) of the Ghanaian constitution, the recommendations of the committee required Osei to be removed due to misbehaviour pursuant to Article 146(1) of the constitution. The president of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo in accordance with the recommendations and provisions of Article156(9) of the Ghanaian constitution directed her immediate removal from office. The immediate past Chair of the Electoral Commission breached procurement laws in awarding several contracts prior to 2016 Ghana elections, a report by the committee that investigated her indicated. Osei indicated that she would respond to the accusations made against her later. She was delaying her response due to the sudden death of the immediate Vice President of Ghana, Kwesi Amissah-Arthur. The grounds for her dismissal are being challenged in the Supreme Court of Ghana by two separate writs filed by Fafali Nyonator and Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, a newspaper editor in Ghana.
Awards and recognition
1991 Volta Hall Award, Best Arts Results, First University Examinations, University of Ghana
Charlotte Osei was awarded a 'Women Of Courage' award by Robert P. Jackson., the United states ambassador to Ghana.
PPP Skills & Competency Development, Institute for Public-Private Partnerships, Arlington, VA, USA (2009)
Basic & Advanced Securities, Securities Selling & Investment Advice, Ghana Stock Exchange, Accra (1997)
1992 Ghana Bar Association, Excellence, LLB Final Examinations, University of Ghana
“Citizenship, Customary Law and a Gendered Jurisprudence: A Socio-Legal Perspective.” by C. Kesson-Smith and W. Tettey in "Critical Perspectives on Politics and Socio-Economic Development in Ghana" (African social studies series), Brill Publishers, 25 Apr 2003, editors: Tettey, Wisdom J., Puplampu, Korbla P., Berman , Joshua
￼tey, Wisdom J., Puplampu, Korbla P., Berman , Joshua
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