…Says Speaker Operating Parliament As His Church
The minority caucus in parliament has cautioned Professor Mike Aaron Oquaye, the Speaker of Parliament, to stop operating the chamber of parliament as his private office or a church established to save the souls of his members.
According to the minority, Prof. Oquaye’s action and inactions in parliament are seriously detrimental to the growth of parliamentary democracy as he continues to exercise his discretion as the umpire of the august House in a more bias and unfair manner.
The minority made these comments after they staged a protest walkout from proceedings in the chamber of parliament yesterday.
It all started when Hon. Kobina Tahir Hammond, the Member of Parliament for Adansi Asokwa, tabled an urgent motion on the floor, seeking the powers of the House, ” to rescind its decision to approve the a ‘Build, Operate and Transfer’ agreement between the Government of the Republic of Ghana and the Africa and Middle East Resources Investment Group Llc (AMERI-Energy) for installation of 10GE TM2,500+aero derivative gas turbines, operate, maintain, transfer and provision of support services that the House took on March, 20, 2015 for reason of gross misrepresentation.”
Before the motion was moved, Hon. Haruna Iddrissu, the minority leader raised a preliminary objection on the grounds that there is a Supreme Court ruling on same matter brought by John Karibo Ndebugre against the Attorney General and two other persons.
However, the Speaker ruled out the minority’s objection and allowed the motion to be moved by Hon. K.T. Hammond and seconded by Hon. Adwoa Safo, Deputy Majority Leader and MP for Dome Kwabenya.
As per the parliamentary rules and standing orders, a motion is to be debated and voted for its purpose, but the Speaker, without audiences to the House unilaterally referred the motion to the Select Committee on Energy.
The Speaker’s action did not go down well with the minority, as they felt treated unfairly by the Speaker and staged a walkout in protest.
However, speaking to the press, the minority leader, Haruna Iddrissu, said the walkout was to send a strong protest signal against the Speaker’s unending bias action against the minority.
He said, though they were not against the motion on the AMERI contract, the Speaker ought to have followed due process, as it is never done in the history of parliament that a motion is referred to a committee instead of a debate on the floor of the house.
They accused the Speaker of muzzling them, and thus had no alternative but to walk out as a sign of protest,
Hon. Iddrisu accused Prof. Mike Oquaye of being a threat to democracy in parliament, stating, “We (Minority) had no option but to protest the manner in which he (Speaker) is endangering parliamentary democracy and its practice.”
“Let me place on record to protest against the conduct of the Speaker in referring a motion to a committee of parliament – a motion which has not been debated and a motion for which no decision has been taken.
“This is a house governed by procedure and a house governed by rules and standing orders. Nowhere – and I challenge you to peruse the standing orders and give us basis and justification for the referral,” he contended.
In the considered opinion of the minority leader, the current parliament cannot cancel a decision taken by the previous parliament, adding that if there are any issues with the deal, the best place to resolve that will be in court.
Hon. Iddrissu added that a Supreme Court has ruled in a different case sometime back that: “Once parliament gives approval, matters now rest in the realm of the judiciary once there is a contract in force.”
He said the minority were seeking proper interpretation of the standing orders as to whether one can just get up to rescind a decision taken by a previous parliament.
“The matter the 6th Parliament considered was referred to it by the Executive, we have since not gotten a response to it and the Speaker was not prepared to interpret the standing orders, even though he is vested with the authority to do so,” he opined.
He stated that, they were not walking out because of AMERI, but because they want the right thing to be done in order and in the interest of Mother Ghana.
“For the record, our boycott is not because of an AMERI motion, but its admissibility and the way he is respecting the rules and the standing orders.”
“How can you refer a motion to a committee of parliament; a motion which has not been debated for which there is no decision and a motion for which the Minority is raising a constitutional, legal objection? The Supreme Court ruled…and we think the appropriate forum is the court? He questioned.
On his part, the minority chief whip, Mohammed Bubarak Muntaka, said the minority are fed up with the Speaker’s conduct over the last six months and that he has consistently held the minority to ransom with little respect.
He also accused the Speaker of varying the order of proceedings without recourse to the leadership, most especially to the majority, and does it in a manner as if he was running a private entity or a church.
According to him, the business of the house is done in the consensus of the leadership of the house, but the Speaker disregards Standing Order 53 and varies the business on his own.
Hon. Muntaka assured that, the minority will continue to raise the Speaker’s attitude till the right things are done in the house per the orders of the house.
Meanwhile, parliament yesterday passed a resolution to ratify the agreement signed between the Government of Ghana and the United States of America (USA) on the resettlement in Ghana of two former detainees of US Naval Station at Guantanamo Bay, in Cuba, Mahmud Umar Muhammad Bin Atef and Khalid Muhammad Salih Al Dhuby.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Hon. Shirley Ayorkor Botchway, who read the motion to pass the resolution, said the government was complying with the Supreme Court’s ruling on the matter.
She said, the resolution was in fulfillment of Article 75 of the constitution which states “any treaty, agreement or convention executed by or under the Authority of the President in the name of Ghana is made subject to ratification either by an Act of Parliament or by a resulting of Parliament supported by the items of more than one-half of all the members of Parliament.”
The two former detainees, Hon. Botchway said, are left with six months to leave the country, per the agreement, and that government will not breach the Supreme Court’s ruling, hence the need for the ratification.
The minority did not object, but questioned why the government, which kicked against the then government’s decision to grant the two Guantanamo Bay detainees a stay in the country, making a u-turn when they have the option to return them.
Source: Therepublicnewsonline.com/ Felix Engsalige Nyaaba