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General News of Monday, 7 January 2013

Source: Daily Guide

Big fight in NDC over posts

There was total confusion ahead of the National Democratic Congress (NCD)’s selection of parliamentary leadership, as outgoing Foreign Affairs Minister Mohammad Mumuni, initially tipped for the position of the First Deputy Speaker, was dropped for Ebo Barton-Odro, outgoing deputy Attorney General.

Ebo Barton-Odro, the man embroiled in the ‘fraudulent’ payment of GHC51.2million judgment debt to NDC financier and business man, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, has now been given the post of First Deputy Speaker.

Information DAILY GUIDE obtained indicated that there was serious misunderstanding leading to Barton-Odro’s nomination, as Alhaji Mumuni, who was initially penciled for the First Deputy Speaker post, told the media he was not contacted before the purported nomination at an emergency meeting of the NDC’s National Executive Committee.

Mumuni had left a meeting convened by party gurus last week wearing a long face in an obvious resentment to the position of a deputy speaker, which he saw as a demotion, having been a cabinet minister since Jerry John Rawlings’s time.

In an attempt to parry probing questions from the media, Alhaji Mumuni indicated that he had not been offered any position.

Reports said it was only after Mumuni had rejected the position of first Deputy Speaker that the NDC was compelled to replace him with the Cape Coast North MP, Barton-Odro. Sources indicated the Kumbungu MP-elect rejected the position of First Deputy Speaker because he was unhappy he was being asked to serve under Edward Doe Adjaho, who had been nominated by the NDC leadership to become the next Speaker of Parliament.

“Hon Mumuni sees Hon Adjaho as his junior at the bar and more so he seems to believe that the position of Deputy Speaker is inferior to the post of both Foreign Affairs Minister and former vice presidential candidate in the 2004 elections,” a senior party member disclosed to Accra-based Citi FM.

Reports had earlier indicated that Mumuni stormed out of NDC’s NEC meeting with a ‘long face’ after stressing he was not going to serve under Speaker Doe Adjaho who was his junior at the bar.

Again, the Foreign Affairs Minister reportedly told party officials he could equally have been the Speaker, especially when he had been a presidential running mate to Professor Atta Mills in 2004.

NDC insiders said Alhaji Mumuni had serious problems with even President John Dramani Mahama because Prof. Mills chose the current president as a running mate ahead of him in the run-up to the 2008 polls.

It is not clear why the NDC later fell on Barton-Odro who, whilst in office as the deputy Attorney-General, claimed the state had no case against Woyome.

This was at a time his boss Martin Amidu, former Attorney General, was battling the matter in court to retrieve the GHC51 million from Woyome.

Woyome, who is at the centre of the alleged dubious deal, was given a red-carpet treatment by government during President John Mahama’s state-of-the-nation address in Parliament last Friday.

Lopsided Bench

However, the reason for settling on Barton-Odro might be the last minute realisation that the NDC leadership bench in parliament is lopsided, as it is packed with Northerners and Voltarians.

The initial list of the NDC front bench, apart from Doe Adjaho as Speaker, had Mumuni as first Deputy Speaker, Alhassan Azong, second deputy speaker, Dr Benjamin Kunbuor, Majority Leader, Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, Majority Whip, Hajia Mary Boforo, first deputy Majority Whip, all northerners, with deputy Majority Leader, Alfred Agbesi coming from the Volta region and Sampson Ahi, the only Southerner (Sehwi) of Akan extraction.

Sources told DAILY GUIDE that after Mumuni’s rejection of the position, Cletus Avoka jumped in to demand that position, but he was denied because of his alleged poor performance as Majority Leader. His own party people were not happy about his delivery as leader.

Joe Ghartey Back

Latest information gathered by DAILY GUIDE before press time yesterday indicated that the NDC was going to allow Esikado/Ketan MP, Joe Ghartey, on the Minority NPP side, to be elected as the Second Deputy Speaker.

Former Attorney-General Joe Ghartey was nominated by the NPP to be second Deputy Speaker according to parliamentary convention where the minority in Parliament normally proposes that position for election.

However, Deputy Information Minister and MP for North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, told the media the NDC was going to propose Builsa North MP and a former minister of state at the Presidency, Alhassan Azong, for Joe Ghartey’s position.

That, according to him, was to punish NPP for boycotting today’s inauguration of President Mahama at the Independence Square.

Fifth Parliament Dissolved

Meanwhile, the Fifth Parliament of the Fourth Republic was expected to be dissolved at midnight yesterday, Sunday, January 6, 2013, paving the way for the commencement of the Sixth Parliament today January 7, 2013.

The previous parliament had 230 members, comprising 116 seats for the NDC, 106 seats for NPP, two seats for the People’s National Convention (PNC), a seat for the Convention People’s Party (CPP) with three occupied by independent MPs.

Among the MPs, 19 were women – 13 from the NPP, five from the NDC and one from the CPP.

Five MPs Died

Five of the MPs including Alhaji Sanni Iddi for Wulensi, Doris Seidu for Chereponi, Emmamuel Owusu-Ansah for Kwabre West, Edward Salia for Jirapa and just on Christmas Day December 25, MP for Buem, Henry Ford Kamel, passed away.

Old Guards In New Parliament

About 177 MPs of the Fifth Parliament would move into the Sixth Parliament as they won their re-election bids in the last polls, with 97 new entrants joining them in the current Legislature.

NDC is the majority side with 148 seats with NPP retaining its position as the minority caucus with 122 seats. One PNC member and three independent members joined the House.

After the dissolution of the Fifth Parliament, the 274 members elected the First and Second Deputy Speakers as well as the Speaker of Parliament.

Speaker Adjaho swore in the new MPs into the Sixth Parliament in the early hours of today in accordance with the Constitution.

Confusion Over Swearing in of Speakers and MPs

There was initial confusion regarding the period for the dissolution of the Fifth Parliament and the inauguration of the Sixth Parliament due to some inconsistencies in a provision in the Presidential (Transition) Act, 2012 (Act 845).

Section 11 (1) of the Act provides that the Clerk of Parliament summons a meeting of the elected members of parliament two days before the dissolution of Parliament to elect the Speaker, deputy speakers and take the oaths of office as members.

Section 11 (3) of the Act provides that “The Speaker elected under sub-section (1) and the Members of Parliament who take their oaths of office under that sub-section, assume office subject to the operations of Article 113 of the Constitution, and accordingly take office on the 7th January following the general election.”

However, both sections of Act 845 are inconsistent with provisions of the 1992 Constitution.

Article 113 (2) states that Parliament shall continue for four years from the date of its first sitting and shall stand dissolved, which indicated that the Fifth Parliament stands dissolved on January 6, 2013, considering that its first sitting was on January 7, 2009.

Article 95 (1) of the Constitution stipulates: “There shall be a Speaker of Parliament who shall be elected by the Members of Parliament from among persons who are Members of Parliament or who are qualified to be elected as Members of Parliament.”

By-Elections

Two by-elections are expected in the next few weeks to elect new MPs for Akatsi South and Buem constituencies to replace the newly elected Speaker Doe Adjaho and Ford Kamel respectively.

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