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General News of Thursday, 2 February 2006

Source: GNA

ROPA goes through second reading

Accra, Feb 2, GNA - The Majority in Parliament on Thursday won a voice vote count to push the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill beyond the second reading in Parliament.

The Minority vehemently opposed the Bill, which had generated anxiety and debate even in homes and public places in the country ever since government introduced it Parliament last year.

The Bill seeks to amend the Representation of the People Law, 1992 (PNDC 284) to enable Ghanaians resident abroad, who by virtue of restrictions imposed on them by the law are unable to register and vote in public elections and referenda in Ghana to do so.

The Minority had openly declared their intention to oppose it on the floor of Parliament.

They have among other things cited administrative hurdles and practical problems such as logistics and geographical distance as some of their reasons for opposing it.

Mr Alban Bagbin, the Minority Leader, who read a statement on behalf of his group, said they were not opposed to the principle of extending franchise to Ghanaians living abroad.

He said there were serious legal and administration problems that had to be cleared before the proposed law could operate without negative consequences.

The Members of the Majority sat through the rough and tumble of the day without making individual contributions.

They had earlier declared that they sensed mischief in the rhetoric of the Minority saying that they (Minority) wanted to deny a good number of Ghanaians living a broad the right to vote.

Some Legal analysts, however, contend that the amendment to the parent law was a matter of constitutional necessity, which did not need a ceremonial touch.

A group called Diasporian Vote Committee (DVC), a pressure group, had threatened to seek the view of the Supreme Court on the matter if the vote of the Bill fell through.

Nii Ayikwei Otu, Attorney General and Minister of Justice, moved for the second reading and uttered the words: "Mr Speaker, I therefore urge all members to support the Bill" amidst tabletop drumming and catcalls to end the debate. 2 Feb. 06