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Opinions of Wednesday, 21 June 2006

Columnist: Adomako, Appiah Kusi

Eric Amoateng, And Nkoranza North Constituency: How Long?

Everyday we keep on hearing stories about Honourable Eric Amoateng resignation as parliamentarian just to On a more serious note let’s move from the reshuffling to Honourable Eric Amoateng, MP for Nkoranza North who has been incarcerated behind thick bars in New York for nearly six months for his alleged involvement in a heroin deal.

His arrest and subsequent detention in the US has charred our national image. For an honourable member of parliament to be allegedly caught red handed is quite unfortunate. Until a court of jurisprudence rules his case Amoateng shall be deemed to be innocent as we say in criminal justice system.

But the question is: what about his seat? For nearly six months since he got himself confined in the penitentiary, the number of parliamentarians has gone down by one. The people of Nkoranza North cannot get their views expressed in parliament. They have been disenfranchised by the incarceration of their MP Amoateng. How can they benefit from their MP’s share of the District Assembly Common Fund?

The people of Nkoranza must be represented in parliament and not in the police cells in New York as it pertains now. The stance taken by the leadership of parliament, NPP party and its government on Amoateng seat is a little bit disturbing. For now no one knows the length of the trial and for us to wait till the case is judged before he comes to continue his work as a parliamentarian then we would not be fair to the good people of Nkoranza. The NPP should have called on Amoateng to resign from his seat right from day one when the case surfaced. At least it appears dishonest for an honourable member of parliament to request permission from the clerk of parliament that you are traveling to the US on an agenda other than the one for which he applied. It cast a smog of doubt on him.

In the United Kingdom a Conservative Party MPs was spotted in gay neighborhood and as soon as the case surfaced in the media he was honourable enough to resign his position. I am not condemning Honourable Amoateng but the circumstances under which he got himself identified with drug peddling and arrested is very unfortunate. If Honorable Amoateng is to be acquitted by the law court and he is to continue his work as a parliamentarian can he make any input into any draft bill on narcotics?

If Amoateng were to be from any other party other than the ruling party the majority would have flexed their way through to call for his resignation to pave way for a bye election at the constituency. Now because Amoateng is with the ruling party and they have the majority in the parliament any attempt to table a motion to discuss this might never see the light of day.

There is one thing in this country which we should be able to put a clear demarcation on. If someone who works in the public service or the civil service decides to contest for parliamentary primaries for any party other the ruling, he is made to resign his position before doing so. However, those who are with the ruling government, in the event of their losing the election, come back to their old jobs.

Back to the Hon. Amoateng saga, so who is it to make a decision? Is it for Hon. Amoateng to wake up one day and write a letter to the Speaker of Parliament that he has resigned his seat? Or is it the party that would put pressure on him to resign? Should the trial take three years to be determined would it mean that the people of Nkoranza North would never be represented in parliament throughout the time? If honourable Amoateng were to be a minister in the NPP government when he got himself trapped in this case would His Excellency the President have allowed his position to be waiting for him pending the determination of the case? At least the president would have asked someone to act on his behalf and would have taken advantage of last week’s reshuffling to rid him permanently. If Amoateng were to be a minister he would have been assisted by a deputy. However since parliamentarians do not have deputies his continual stay in the penitentiary means that his work is grounded to a halt. In Harrison Ford’s arresting movie Air Force One when the US President and his entourage got their airplane hijacked such that he could not perform his duties, the Vice President on the advice of the Chief Justice acted until in the final analysis, when the president and his entourage were rescued by American soldiers. People of goodwill must speak. We do not have to be pulling the legal strings. This world hinges on a moral foundation and we are setting a bad precedent for the future. The President, NPP Chairman and the leadership of parliament must advice Honourable Amoateng to resign his seat so that the voiceless people of Nkoranza North can have their views heard in our legislative hall. A stitch in time saves nine. Appiah Kusi Adomako is an international freelance writer and the president of the Ghana Chapter of Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation. He can be contacted through: Leaders of Tomorrow Foundation, P.O. BOX. KS 13640. Kumasi. Tel www.leaders-of-tomorrow-inc.com E-mail: appiah@whatsonghana.com



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