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General News of Saturday, 5 August 2017

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Parliament goes on recess

Parliament adjourned sine die last Wednesday night with a call on members to use the laid down procedures of the House to address their grievances.

Delivering his closing remarks at the end of the second meeting of the seventh Parliament of the Fourth Republic of Ghana, the Speaker of Parliament, Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, said Parliament was an institution that was guided by Standing Orders and procedures.

Therefore, he said, MPs were expected to speak with decorum in addressing their concerns, saying "there is a difference between speaking in the church and speaking in a market."

Prof. Oquaye said MPs might have some reservations, but their explanations regarding what to say and how to say it must be backed by parliamentary etiquette.

The Speaker's call came in the wake of recent happenings in the House as the Minority leadership had on occasions expressed reservations about his rulings in the House.

The Minority staged a walk-out last Tuesday over what it described as a flawed admission of an urgent motion requesting Parliament to rescind its decision to approve the Ameri power deal for gross misrepresentation.

During the second meeting, the MPs approved a number of agreements, loans and considered a number of bills, including the Office of the Special Prosecutor Bill, 2017 and the Zongo Development Fund Bill, 2017.

The House is expected to reconvene in October, 2017.

Varied ideologies and values

Prof. Oquaye said Parliament, being a human institution with varied political ideals, values, and backgrounds, MPs might sometimes do things that could mar the records of the House.

He said people expected qualitative performance and dignity from legislators and, therefore, asked them to raise the interests of the nation above any other interests.

Majority Leader

The Majority Leader, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said recent events in the House, which had to do with procedures, tended to generate into controversy.

He said the Minority must have its say, but the say must be situated within the confines of the Standing Orders of Parliament.

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said the Speaker showed tolerance, and indicated that "rights are never absolute and unfettered."

He said it was crucial for the House "to use the recess to do serious retrospection and come back sobered."

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said recent allegations of corruption against Parliament had tended to affect the image of the House and, therefore, asked MPs to work on their image to regain "our image in the eyes of the public."

Minority Leader

The Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said it was a known political cliche that the Minority must have its say and the Majority, its way but said where it was necessary for the Minority to support business in the House, it would do so.

However, Mr Iddrisu said the Minority would continue to be firm and discharge its duties in the interest of the country.

"We will not be intimidated. We will use parliamentary procedures for the good of our country," he said.

For instance, Mr Iddrisu said parliamentary questions were crucial to ensuring oversight, and indicated that past Minority leaders since 1993 had had the opportunity to ask several follow-up questions.

Speaking in the light of the Speaker's recent ruling that limited the Minority leader's questions to one, Mr Iddrisu said, “if we cannot add to it, don't reduce it."