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Politics of Saturday, 2 September 2006

Source: Heritage

NPP, NDC Divided On By-Election For Nkoranza North

In spite of their wish to have a representative in Parliament through a by-election to advance the cause of the constituency, there seems to be a difference in opinion among the major political parties in the Nkoranza North Constituency on the urgency of the need for a new Member of Parliament.

Even the aspiring MPs from both the National Democratic Congress- NDC and the New Patriotic Party- NPP have expressed different opinions on this need to have a by-election in the constituency to replace the present MP, who is currently entangled in a legal battle to prove his inculpability in a drug related offence in the far away United States of America.

While officials of the NPP are divided in their opinions on the necessity to have a substantive representative in Parliament, those from the NDC on the other hand, seem to have a common stance, which is the declaration of the seat, vacant.

In a telephone interview yesterday, with the District Chief Executive of Nkoranza, James K. Appiah-Awuah, on whether or not the constituency needs a by-election, the DCE grudgingly told The Heritage that there is no need for a by-election.

"If Nkoranza people, who have the mandate, do not find the need for a replacement of their MP, why should others stay elsewhere and worry?" he stressed.

The constituency chairman of the party, Adu Yaw Abdulai, who chose to chart a middle course, further buttressed this point. According to him, "If Parliament sees the need and calls for a by-election, we will comply and get ready to contest."

But as a man in the constituency and on the ground, he claimed to find no need at all for a by-election, as "the DCE is acting. There is no hardship here."

Since the arrest of the MP for the area, Eric Amoateng, in the U.S.A. on charges of trafficking illicit drugs, opinions have been divided on whether the seat should be declared vacant or not.

The problem was further compounded when a letter purported to be a resignation letter by Mr. Amoateng was rejected by Parliament on procedural grounds.

And, recently at a sensitization programme in the Central Region, the Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Felix Kwasi Owusu-Adjapong, again explained this point and reiterated that even though the said MP wrote to resign his seat, the seat could not be declared vacant, adducing the same reason of non-compliance with the rules and regulations of Parliament.

It will also be recalled that Parliament, during its last meeting, upon a request by counsel for Mr. Amoateng, extended the permission granted him to enable him finish with the case in the USA.

Meanwhile, aspirants from both the NPP and NDC seem to disagree with the stance taken by both Parliament and government not to declare the seat vacant.

Contrary to the position of the party, the NPP aspiring MP, Maj. Derrick Oduro, told The Heritage "if we say everything is going well here and we need no new MP because all his functions are being performed by someone asked to deputize for him, we are not telling the truth. We are only deceiving ourselves."

He noted that development needs at every constituency level requires that the MP and the DCE play specific roles and collaborate: "if someone could do the job of an MP for them, the Constitution would not have prescribed that position.

According to Maj. Oduro, there is a clarion call from the people at Nkoranza North for a good and compassionate MP to replace and continue the good works of Mr. Amoateng who is being held behind bars in the United States.

This assertion by Maj. Oduro seems to agree with those expressed by the Brong Ahafo Regional Chairman of the NDC, Owusu Agyemang, who claimed the delay in the by-election was denying the people of Nkoranza North the needed development.

According to him, if the role of an MP was not important and necessary, the 1992 Constitution would not have created it and, therefore, called on Parliament to declare the seat vacant.

"Why should someone think that there is no need for a by-election now in Nkoranza North? he quipped, adding, "the Constitution mandates each constituency should have a representative in Parliament. Nowhere in the Constitution is it stated that there should be a constituency without an MP."

Explaining his call for a by- election, the regional chairman alleged that the people of Nkoranza North are being denied the opportunity to have their anxieties, worries and needs aired.

Mr. Agyemang said, even though some MPs had pledged on the floor of Parliament to help the constituency, no MPs had talked on behalf of the area since the arrest of Nana Amoateng in November, last year.

He further averred that since Nana Amoateng came to Parliament in January, last year, he had not touched any of the funds that were allocated to MPs and whined that these resources were lying idle.

He disagreed with the reason advanced by Parliament for rejecting the resignation letter of Mr. Amoateng as tangential to the real issue. He was of the view that the procedure used by the MP should not be of importance, but the content of the letter.

Meanwhile, the constituency chairman of the NDC, Dr. Kofi Amoako Gyampah, an heir apparent to the throne, said, though there is no agitation from the people for an MP, "the need for an MP is long overdue."

He told The Heritage, though the people had been grumbling about the absence on an MP in the area, there had not been any official demonstration or petition to anyone to call for a by-election.

He said, since the constituency is a new one, there is the need to have a representative to lobby for development in the area. Dr. Amaoko further stated that the constituency's share of the MPs' part of the Common Fund, HIPC and GETFunds, for instance, could also be used to boost the infrastructural development of the area.

He agreed that the DCE is doing his best to develop the area, but observed that since the district covers both the South and the North, the resources have to be shared equally.

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