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Opinions of Monday, 13 February 2017

Columnist: Sakyi-Danso and Kingson

How Kyei Mensah Bonsu engineered Ghana’s embarrassment at the ECOWAS Parliament

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Majority Leader Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu’s decision, to reconstitute delegates on the majority side of Ghana’s Legislature, to the ECOWAS Parliament without consulting his colleagues is what has resulted in the international embarrassment that met the Ghanaian delegation last Friday January 10, 2017 in Abuja, Nigeria during the 2017 Extra Ordinary Session of ECOWAS Parliament.

The alleged confusion occurred, when it was realized that Ghana had sent nine representatives instead of the eight that it was entitled too.

It was widely reported on Friday that an unpresented embarrassment and confusion rocked Ghana’s delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament following the alleged refusal of Mr. Frederick Opare Ansah MP for Suhum, to step down as a Member of the regional legislature.

He has been a member of the ECOWAS Parliament since the life of the Sixth Parliament and according to the ECOWAS Protocol a member is entitled to a four year tenure unless he or she loses his seat in his home country or becomes a member of the Country’s Executive.

It has become necessary for Ghana to reconstitute its delegation following the outcome of the 2016 general elections. Also, Dan Botwe and Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey have become Ministers of State and therefore had to resign their positions in the Community Parliament.

However, in reconstituting the delegation the Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu led majority leadership failed to take into consideration the fact that Mr. Opare Ansah is still eligible to continue his membership-haven won his seat again during the 2016 elections. Instead, he formed a new set of delegation to the Community Parliament led by Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh.

The delegation also include the MP for Akwapim South, O.B. Amoah, MP for Juaben, Ama Pomaah Boateng Andoh, MP for Effutu, Alexander Afenyo-Markin and MP for Akrofuom, Kwabena Appiah-Pinkrah representing the majority side, while MP for Anlo, Clement Kofi Humado, MP for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga and MP for Bodi, Sampson Ahi form the minority side.

Upon reaching Abuja, the eight member Ghanaian delegation met Frederick Opare Ansah, a sitting member who has neither resigned nor taken any appointment in the Executive and that was when the confusion started. Both Opare Ansah and Afenyo-Markin insisted they had the mandate to represent Ghana.

The Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, His Excellency Honorable Moustapha Cisse, at the commencement of the Meeting on Friday refused to swear in the Ghanaian delegation insisting that they must properly sought themselves out as to who among them has the right to represent the country.

Sources within the corridors of the ECOWAS Parliament reveal to these reporters that, Alexander Afenyo-Markin finally pulled out of the delegation, but authorities in Abuja insisted on further clarifications from Accra before swearing in the Ghanaian delegation.

According to the Hansard of Ghana’s Parliament for January 25, 2017, Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, in presenting the report of the Selection Committee on the composition of members to the ECOWAS Parliament explained that the “the tenure of a Member in the Community Parliament is four (4) years starting from the day the Member is sworn-in. In the period of transition, representatives at the Community Parliament who are not re-elected into their respective country’s Parliament still remain in office until new representatives are elected by the respective country Parliament to take up their positions”.

Contributing to motion on the floor of the House, the MP for New Juabeng, Dr. Mark Assibey – Yeboah drew the attention of the leadership of the majority side to a possible brawl since the ECOWAS Parliament had already has one old member whose tenure is still valid per the regulations of the regional legislature.

Dr Assibey-Yeboah argued that “in one breath, we are saying that because the Sixth Parliament has elapsed, we have to re-compose an entirely new membership to the ECOWAS Parliament. However, if you are a Member of the ECOWAS Parliament and you have been sworn-in and you have not resigned, then our Parliament here cannot forcefully take you out of that Parliament”.

He said “Mr. Speaker, I was making the point that in the year 2001, we would recall that the late Hawa Yakubu, who was a Member of the ECOWAS Parliament who was nominated and approved as a Minister of State for Tourism. The ECOWAS Protocol also state that you cannot be part of the Executive in your Country and also belong to the ECOWAS Parliament. At the same time, she opted to stay in ECOWAS and so gave up her position as Minister for Tourism,” he said.

He noted that, “I have seen the old ECOWAS membership had Hon Dan Botwe, Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchway and Hon Frederick Opare-Ansah. As we know two of them have been nominated as Ministers. If they do not resign, our Parliament cannot forcefully take them out of the ECOWAS Parliament, that is my interpretation of paragraphs 1.0 and 3.0 which I read.

“So, I am only asking Leadership if the necessary consultations have been made, so that we do not have a situation where our eight new Members go to the ECOWAS Parliament and the old ones insist on staying there. It’s going to be embarrassing for our Country. I am only drawing the attention of leadership to this situation which has happened in the past,” he stated.

The New Patriotic Party (NPP) MP for New Juaben South made a case for Ghana to consider putting its best and experienced foot forward when it comes to sending members to represent the country in the international circles.

“We complain here in Ghana that our Parliament suffers from high attrition. I see here eight new Honorable Members nominated to the ECOWAS Parliament. In the last ECOWAS Parliament, we had a Member, who had served for a longer period, for which reason, he was elevated to the position of a Deputy Speaker in the ECOWAS Parliament. Today, we are sending Hon Members and there is no experience being carried over from the old membership of the ECOWAS Parliament,” he lamented.

Majority leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu declined to speak to the issue on Friday when he was reached him for an interview after adjournment of the House. “Thank you,” he said.

Source: Kwaku Sakyi-Danso and Jeorge Wilson Kingson

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