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General News of Saturday, 8 November 2014

Source: GNA

Parliament discusses the Burkinabe situation

Parliament has thrown the searchlight on the political situation in neighbouring Burkina Faso, and asked members to hold the Executive and other arms of Government in check to forestall the perpetuation and abuse of power.

Members were of the view that as elected representatives of the people they have to listen to the people and not to do their own bidding or that of the Executive to maintain the respect of the people and confidence in the Constitution.

Some of the legislators were of the view that the people are losing their respect for the Legislature and it is necessary immediate steps are taken to restore the dented image of the parliament and prevent it from becoming a rubber stamp institution.

The concerns were raised in contributions to statements by Mr Emmanuel Bandua, Chairman of the Select Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Mr Isaac Osei, Ranking Member on the political situation in Burkina Faso.

In the statement, Mr Bandua indicated the deposed President Blaise Campaore came into the limelight in 1987 after the mysterious killing of his predecessor Captain Thomas Sankara by a group of soldiers.

“For 27 long years, President Campaore ruled Burkina Faso and during this period, he won four disputed elections, the last one being in November 2010,” Mr Bandua said.

The protests that culminated in the resignation of President Campaore were triggered by his plan to amend the Constitution so that he could run again in next year’s elections.

During the protests demonstrators stormed parliament, setting fire to the building ostensibly to prevent the parliamentarians from changing the constitution to allow President Campaore to run for another term.

The confusion that emanated from that attempt, made the former President resigned, and together with the former Speaker and his two deputies fled the country, with the military taking over.

The ECOWAS intervened and discussed with the Military Leaders and key groups how to restore normalcy to the country.

However, under Burkina Faso Constitution, the President of the Senate is mandated to assume the administration of the country when the President resigns, while elections shall take place between 60 and 90 days later.

After the ECOWAS meeting, President Dramani Mahama noted that it is important that leadership vacuum is not created in Burkina Faso, but observed that even though the constitution stipulated that shall take place between 60 and 90 day, the period is too short to organise the process.

He therefore suggested that the transitional government operates pending general election next year.

Mr Bandua asked: “Mr Speaker, the question that comes to mind is what lessons we can learn as a nation and particularly as Members of Parliament from the Burkina Faso crisis?

“The first lesson in my opinion, Mr Speaker, is that freedom and democracy are usually not given on a silver platter. They are taken through the exercise of vigilance and force when necessary,” Mr Bandua said.

Mr Bandua said if the Burkina Faso Parliament had sent a signal to President Campaore that any attempt to amend the constitution with the view to prolonging his stay in office would not be countenanced, Burkina Faso would have been spared the crisis.

“May I take this opportunity to urge all of us, as members of this Honourable House, to speak with a sense of purpose and conviction on matters of national interest so that our country does not come to this,” Mr Bandua said.

Mr Isaac Osei on his part said the development in Burkina Faso should serve as a lesson and a warning to all political leaders not to tinker with Constitutional provisions to perpetuate their stay in power.

He said though constitutional provisions may be changed, it should not be designed or tailored for the benefits of “one man or his cohorts”.

The lawmaker urged colleagues to assert the independence of the legislature in order not to be abused by the Executive.

He warned leaders who pervert constitutional arrangements by stealing the mandate of the people through the rigging of elections and subverting electoral processes to “remember that the people’s anger cannot be contained indefinitely”.

He implored politicians to work together solely for the benefit of Ghana, and not for self-gain but for the people.

Deputy Minority Leader, Dominic Nitiwul, MP for Bimbilla said the confidence the people of Ghana has in the Legislature is fast eroding, calling on members to salvage the image of the House.

He said at all times, the House should consider the interest of the people who elected them as their representative and not to simply veto every piece of legislation just for the sake of numbers or partisan interest.

Mr Joseph Yieleh Chireh, MP for Wa West cautioned against military take-over’s, insisting that at all times and conditions, constitutional arrangements should be strictly adhered to.

He said the times of military take-overs are past and gone and it is therefore not necessary to spread any news about them since Ghana has passed that age.