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General News of Friday, 16 November 2018


Minority takes on Speaker over 'capricious' action

Minority Members of Parliament on Friday called out the Speaker, accusing him of breaching the Constitution and Standing Orders after a one-sided chamber passed an important Constitutional Instrument (C.I.).

During a discussion to consider a report on the C.I. to regulate an upcoming referendum for the creation of new regions, the Minority staged a walk out of the chamber protesting a lack of quorum.

The House, according to the Minority MPs, did not have the required numbers to take a decision on the matter, however, their plea did not get the attention of the Speaker, Prof Mike Ocquaye.

Although the report was adopted, the Minority is fuming over unfair treatment, calling the adoption of the report as an illegality.

Commenting on the matter on Top Story on Joy FM, National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for Adaklu, Kwame Agbodza, said the Speaker’s action was inimical to democracy.

“Article 102 of the Constitution basically says that a quorum of Parliament is one-third of the Members of Parliament; one-third works out to about 91.6 but we round it up to say 92.

“As at the time, we started taking the C.I. we were only 63 in the chamber. You would imagine a Majority in Parliament which is 169 can’t even garner 92. We were going to take a decision as important as the C.I for the referendum and we can’t have enough members,” he said.

According to him, he got up to draw the attention of the Speaker that by the Constitutional and Parliament’s own Standing Orders, the numbers were not adequate to discuss the C.I. but the Speaker, he alleged, refused to give him a chance to speak.

“I use this word reservedly. But I think Speaker was a bit capricious today to the extent that I, Kwame Agbodza, was the only one left on the Minority side. Under what circumstance will the Speaker not be able to recognise a single person on the Minority side? Is the Speaker trying to say that I was wrong for actually drawing his attention to the fact that we did not have the numbers to even have the discussion?” he quizzed.

He said the Minority will insist on the rights of the Members of Parliament according to the Constitution.

“We will not request anything which is unconstitutional. We wanted the Constitution to be respected today, the Speaker ignored the Constitution and the decision taken today [by the Minority MPs] is illegal,” he said.

The walkout

Before staging the walkout, the Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu argued that without copies of the Justice Brobbey report which formed the foundation of the proposed new regions they cannot take part in the debate on the CI 109.

He reminded the Speaker that he had since last week made requests for copies of the report to be made available to the house and quoted Article 11 of the constitution but that has not been done.

“If you have a CI called CI 109 this output can only be the output of the Justice Brobbey Report. How can I relate to it when I have not seen a copy of the report?” he asked.

But Minister of Regional Reorganization and Development, Dan Botwe in a counter argument said the President had not breached any regulation by not making the Commission of Inquiry's report public since the six months’ time limit hasn't elapsed.

Addressing the media after the sitting, Majority leader Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu accused the Minority of failing to apply themselves with the provisions in the constitution.

He said copies of the Justice Brobbey report had been presented to the Committee chaired by Bawku Central MP Mahama Ayariga.

He found it strange that the Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu would insist on being served with the Commission’s report when indeed the committee chaired by his own colleague, Ayariga had been served copies.

Quoting sections of the Constitution, on the creation of the new regions he said it is the duty of the Electoral Commission to table the report to Parliament if the MPs so desire to have them and not a minister.

“We work with rules and people should learn the rules before they make demands that cannot be substantiated,” he said.

Listen to more in the audio link below