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General News of Saturday, 4 March 2017


Ruckus in ECOWAS Parliament was a betrayal of trust – Majority Leader

Majority Leader, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has described as “a betrayal of trust” the embarrassment that Ghana suffered as a result of the confusion that rocked the country’s delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja some few weeks ago.

In January 2017, the Parliament of Ghana constituted an eight-member delegation to the Community Parliament.

Included among the delegation are; Hon. Kwasi Ameyaw-Cheremeh (Leader), Hon. Osei Bonsu Amoah, Hon. Ama Pomaa Boateng, Hon. Alexander Afenyo-Markin and Hon. Kwabena Appiah-Pinkrah.

The rest are Hon. Clement Kofi Humado, Hon. Mahama Ayariga and Hon. Sampson Ahi.

However, when the Extra Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament opened in Abuja on January 10, 2017, the eight-member Ghanaian delegation that had travelled to participate in the decision process of the Community Parliament suddenly changed to nine, with the additional member being Hon. Frederick Opare Ansah, MP for Suhum.

Ghana met this avoidable embarrassment when the Speaker of the Community Parliament, His Excellency Honourable Moustapha Cisse, at the commencement of the Extra Ordinary Session refused to swear in the Ghanaian delegation for not properly represented.

He insisted that the delegation sought themselves out as to who among them has the right to represent Ghana.

Due to the embarrassment, the MP for Effutu, Hon. Alexander Afenyo-Markin pulled out of the delegation but the Community Parliament insisted on further clarifications from Accra before swearing in the Ghanaian delegation.

Mr. Opare Ansah had been a member of the Community Parliament since the life of the Sixth Parliament of Ghana.

According to the ECOWAS Protocol, a Member is entitled to four-year tenure unless that Member loses his or her seat in his or her home country or becomes a Member of the country’s Executive and subsequently resigns.

It was widely reported in a cross section of the Ghanaian media that the Parliament of Ghana in reconstituting its delegation to the ECOWAS Parliament following the outcome of the 2016 general elections did not consult Mr. Opare Ansah who retained his seat and was eligible to continue his Membership at the Community legislature.

The blame of Ghana’s embarrassment was put at the doorsteps of the Majority Leader and Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu.

But Hon. Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu responding to the issue on the floor of Parliament, Friday, March 3, 2017, said the embarrassment that met the Ghanaian delegation to the Community Parliament could have been avoided if Members had respected the decision of the Parliament of Ghana.

“Mr. Speaker, when the very embarrassing situation occurred – the way it occurred, I have been personally linked to the matter as if it was upon my insistence that Parliament constituted the delegation the way the it was constituted. Nothing can be furthered away from the truth and I know that people who are clothed in pertinence and mischief went out there to mention my name that it was the Majority Leader who led Parliament to do that. It was not the Majority Leader who led Parliament to do that”, he noted.

He explained, “We had agreed about the composition and we had agreed to terminate the Membership and I think this should be clear to everybody because I hear people from among us that the decision was faulty, it wasn’t. The composition of the last ECOWAS Parliament was predicated on some assumptions and some agreements that we are going to reconstitute the entire delegation once the term of that Parliament came to an end and all those who were sent there agreed to that. It was a betrayal of trust what happened later and then my name got linked that it was the Majority Leader who went against the protocol. Nothing can be furthered away from that truth. Mr. Speaker, I think I must forcefully register this”.

The Majority Leader’s reaction follows a call by the Minority Leader, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, for the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Prof. Aaron Michael Oquaye to address the issue since it affects the integrity of the House.

In the view of the Minority Leader, what the decision of the MP for Effutu to pull out from the Ghanaian delegation to the Community Parliament was morally right but legally “inappropriate” and the earlier the House addresses the matter to avoid any future occurrence the better.

“What he [Hon. Afenyo-Markin] did amounted to a disrespect to what we had conveyed as a Parliament to the ECOWAS Parliament. Whilst I urge that leadership should look into this matter, all of us must avoid conduct which undermines the integrity of this House. We should respect protocols religiously and we should endevour that this matter is properly settled before decisions are taking”.

“I can understand, Mr. Speaker, I must commend you because I recalled calling you on three occasions to discuss this subject matter in order to avoid this embarrassing situation. You were deeply concerned but you were not adequately heard by us in trying to appreciate it.

The Majority Leader even at a point with his colleague, now Minister for Defense, Hon. Dominic Nitiwul, gave some evidence to assist you in the work which also exposed some betrayals of principles and honour that persons agreed that this will be the understanding – the day of implementation of that understanding come and then they run away from it.

That is not right and that is not acceptable so I will think that as we look into ECOWAS, did we as a Parliament respect the protocol of ECOWAS? No – if no, then why? What informed that?

Did we do it on the basis of some understanding that have not been respected but whatever it is, this embarrassment could have been avoided and it should be avoided in future even though I can understand what our colleague Afenyo-Markin did”, he added.