General News of Tuesday, 7 August 2012
Source: Daily Graphic
The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, has dismissed criticisms against the decision of the Appointments Committee of Parliament (ACP) to publicly vet Mr Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur for the position of Vice-President of the Republic of Ghana.
He stated that the decision of the ACP to hold public hearing generated a lot of mix reactions with some commentators supporting the decision by the committee while others condemned it.
“As public officials, we accept all these condemnations and criticisms in good faith. However, what we cannot accept is to use falsehood to accuse the ACP of double standards,” he said.
Mr Adjaho expressed these sentiments before the ACP began its public vetting of Mr Amissah-Arthur.
Mr Amissah-Arthur was nominated by President John Dramani Mahama for the position of Vice-President, which became vacant following the elevation of the then Vice-President to the office of the President after the death of President John Evans Atta Mills.
Mr Adjaho stated that some people had even argued that in the case of the Chief Justice, Mrs Theodora Georgina Wood was given an in-camera hearing.
“This is absolutely false,” he said, and referred such people to the Parliament Hansard of Friday, June 1, 2007.
Mr Adjaho explained that the only person who was given an in-camera hearing by the Appointments Committee of Parliament during the Fourth Republic was the former Minister for National Security, Mr Francis Poku.
He stated that the in-camera hearing of the vice-presidential nominee was discussed by the Appointments Committee and overwhelmingly rejected by the members from both sides of the House.
Mr Adjaho said since the country did not have any precedence, it sought examples from other jurisdictions.
He explained that the extraordinary event of the assassination of President John Kennedy in the United States of America ( USA) in 1963 provided a dramatic catalyst for change and helped to stimulate congressional approval of an amendment that emerged.
The changes, according to him, empowered the President to nominate a Vice-President whenever the office was vacant, subject to approval by majority of both houses of the US Congress.
“In our own present case, Parliament is not a reactive institution. The situation confronting us is completely without precedence, and this, therefore, demands a careful approach and application of our rules and procedures.”
He added that since it was the first time in Ghana's history that the committee was dealing with a peculiar nomination, it was necessary for it to be guided by certain historical precedents and the use of the standing Orders of the House as a basic referral document.
Mr Adjaho referred to the Standing Order 172 (2), which stipulates that “it shall be the duty of the committee to recommend to Parliament for approval or otherwise persons nominated by the President for appointment as ministers of state, deputy ministers of state, members of the Council of State, the Chief Justice and other Justices of the Supreme Court, and such other persons specified under the Constitution or under any other enactments”.
For his part, the Minority Leader and Ranking Member of the Appointments Committee, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said the nominee had to be vetted, since voters could not directly vet him as they did in regular electioneering.
“It is only proper and fitting that Parliament which directly represents the people has the opportunity to scrutinise the nominee on behalf of the people,” he said.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the exercise of vetting was to show the fact that Parliament had the responsibility to oversee the activities of the Executive.