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Opinions of Thursday, 23 February 2006

Columnist: GNA

Rolling away ROPAB

A GNA Colour by Samuel Osei-Frempong

Accra, Feb. 23, GNA - In the early hours of Thursday, two days after a street protest against what has come be known as "burger votes', Policemen with huge muscles watched the gates of Parliament with exceptional scrutiny.

Guns, batons and armoured cars hid among the trees planted along the old long walls built to keep Members of Parliament safe from unruly physical attacks.

This day has been marked for the passage of the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill (ROPAB), which would also become a moment of victory for the Majority, taunted and hated by a section of the public, who have been convinced to vilify their newfound enterprise. They had planned their celebration in style; white clothing with white shoes in some cases to match.

Mr Felix Owusu Agyepong, the Majority Leader, the chief celebrant, wore a long flowing frock with a black cap to match. Nii Ayikoe Otoo, The Attorney - General, who had the pleasure to seal the victory, by moving for the third reading of the ROPAB, was modestly dressed: An ash jacket and ash trousers to match. They had all strolled into the precincts of Parliament early to savour the historic moment.

Their day had begun with the usual procession of the Speaker, prayers, and announcement of the time for Parliamentary questions. Two questions stood in the name of Minority members who had joined their colleagues to boycott the proceedings of the house due to the ROPAB.

The Minister of Women and Children Affairs, Hajia Alima Mahama had taken her seat near the despatch box expecting her questions but someone among the Majority shouted: "They are out of coverage area." The press gallery was full to the brim while the public gallery was bursting at the seams.

Many had travelled from far and near to watch the House pass a bill that has been condemned by many and praised by many. The Mace stood still in the busy Chamber, which had not changed much after it was decorated to host President John Agyekum Kufuor. The fine colourful strips of linen still hanged and run the skies of the Chamber and occasionally gave further illumination to the light brown woodwork glued on the walls to conceal the rough work of the bricklayer.

But in an unusual fashion, a huge gaping emptiness precipitated a creeping silence that spoke louder than words.

The absence of a robust Minority that would have made the celebration fuller, sweeter and more memorable, took away a part of this day with their boycott.

As the security watch around for questionable characters, a huge rough assemblage of an unknown choir sang the praises of the bill outside the Chamber.

They also wore white robes raising their hands in the air to exalt their newfound deity: It signified good radiance. The day had grown grey as the quiet sweet invading sea breeze swayed the branches of the indifferent trees, which could have told a more compelling story but had not been assigned that role by their creator. "How do we sing along?" Two birds perching on a nearby tree seemed to be contemplating, could they belong to the species that sings: "Ason sua aso eeh Oman bu agyou oo!" To wit: "The battle is decided there must be peace." 23 Feb. 06