Minority accuse House Speaker of acting arbitrarily

Doe_Adjaho The Minority NPP has accused the Speaker of Parliament, Edward Doe Adjaho of taking unilateral decisions on the Constitution Review Commission’s recommendations on entrenched provisions.

At a news conference Wednesday, the Members of Parliament said the Attorney General had delivered a document containing the recommendations in the white paper and handed it over to the Speaker.

But the Speaker, without recourse to the House, forwarded the document to the Council of State, the minority claimed.

The Minority said the Speaker exceeded his powers in taking the decision.

MP for Bekwai, Joe Osei-Owusu who is also Chairman of Parliament’s Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Committee, addressed the news conference.

“It must be stated at the outset that the Speaker is not a Member of Parliament. To that extent there is no legislative power vested in him, acting alone. Article 290 deals with the legislative process which any partition of the constitution may be amended,” he said.

Mr. Osei-Owusu added, “We in the Minority regret to observe that the whole process of constitutional amendement is turning out to be nothing other than an executive review of the national constitution.”

He said relying on Article 290 (3), the Bill the Speaker received from the Attorney General ought to have been published in the Gazette and should not have been introduced into parliament “until the expiry of six months after the publication in the Gazette”.

However, he noted, the Speaker received the Bill on 28th April 2014 but “with such indecent haste” he relayed it to the Council of State on the same day.

Later in an interview with Joy News, Mr. Joe Osei-Owusu insisted that the Speaker simply jumped the gun. Moreover, he said, the Speaker is not a Member of Parliament and was not enable by law to act on behalf of it.

But the Majority Chief Whip, Alhaji Mohammed Muntaka Mubarack told Joy News the “Speaker did the right thing”.

He claimed before Parliament shall consider such a bill, it first has to be sent to the Council of State.

He quoted Article 290 (2) to buttress his point. It stipulates: “A bill for the amendement of an entrenched provision shall, before Parliament proceeds to consider it, be referred by the Speaker to the Council of State for its advice and the Council of State shall render advice on the bill within thirty days after receiving it.”

Prior to relaying the Bill to the Council of State, the Speaker spoke to both the Minority and Majority Leaders about the action he was going to take, Alhaji Muntaka asserted.

He said he was therefore “sad” and “surprised” by the medium –press conference – used by the Minority to air their concerns.

He admitted that since the constitutional review process is new to the house there are bound to be some grey areas but holding a press conference is certainly not the best way to resolve the differences.

What the Minority sought to do was to was the dirty linen of Parliament in public, he pointed out.

But Osei-Owusu countered his claim that his action had the support of the Minority Leader.

He said the Minority Leader, after raising verbal objection, wrote to the Speaker pointing out his disagreement. He further wrote to the Council of State to hammer home his point but after a week of  no response, the Minority had to resort to the press conference, he noted.

He is however, hoping the matter would be resolved within a week else the Minority would take advantage of the several options available to them which included seeking interpretation and enforcement of the constituency.

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